Bandwidth Management & ISP Traffic Shaping: What Is It?

Nathan Hill-Haimes


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    Web traffic management is an important part of your broadband package as it has an impact on the speed of Internet you receive. As it has a number of names – from bandwidth management to traffic shaping – it can seem overly complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

    Once you get the jargon out of the way and figure out how web traffic management works, you can then determine the benefits of this for your business, as well as the drawbacks. Read on to discover everything you need to know.

    So, what actually is web traffic management?

    traffic management

    This is a term that is used to describe when your broadband provider alters your upload speeds or download speeds for specific tasks at certain times. The purpose of this is to make sure that everyone utilises the line has a stable connection. After all, when you think about how many users are connected to the provider’s line, you see the strain this places on the line’s capacity.

    Without web traffic management, this could mean that everyone on the line experiences poor quality Internet. So, you may be thinking is my internet speed throttled? The answer is probably, and if you use a home business service to run your business the answer is definitely. Based on the likelihood that at certain times of the day your internet traffic is being shaped you should understand how, why and when this is likely to happen.

    How does traffic management work?


    qos bandwidth management

    To determine what sort of data is being transferred, your ISP will use a special type of software. They will then determine whether your data should be slowed down or whether the activity should be prioritised. ‘Urgent’ activities will be put into the fast lane, meaning you get faster speeds and greater capacity so you do not drag down the connection for all of the other users.

    This is not something that is happening all of the time; it will only take place during peak times when there is a lot of use. This tends to be weekends and evenings, which is good news for businesses operating during the standard 9 to 5 hours. The activities that are most likely to be prioritised are those that require a stable connection, for example, online gaming, TV streaming, and video calls. Activities that will be slowed down are non-critical tasks like software updates, anything peer-to-peer, and file sharing.

    The benefits of traffic management

    There are a number of benefits associated with broadband that is traffic managed. This includes the fact that you will benefit from stable speeds no matter how many other users are connected. This means that you don’t have to worry about your video chats or games being interrupted.

    Are there are downsides of traffic management?

    traffic shaping

    Well, if you are engaging in a ‘non-critical’ task, you are likely to be slowed down. So, if you are downloading big files or you do a lot of peer-to-peer sharing, it can be incredibly frustrating.

    What types of service experience the most traffic management?

    There are a number of different suppliers that manage web traffic. Most home providers manage their network using bandwidth shaping. Budget broadband packages are also subject to significant amounts of bandwidth management. This includes Virgin Media, SSE Broadband, and the Post Office.

    It is worth looking into each package before you sign on the dotted line. For example, with the Post Office, between 4 pm and midnight peer-to-peer sharing will be restricted. Moreover, your upload and download speeds may be restricted for the month once you use up 100GB – if you do, of course.

    For SSE Broadband, prioritised activities are VPN use, web browsing and VoIP such as Skype. Virgin Media, on the offer hand, does not prioritise based on activities; the company looks at the amount of data you have uploaded since 6 pm. We say uploaded because Virgin only restricts uploads; it provides rapid download speeds.

    What if I don't want to be subject to traffic shaping?

    If you are a business and you don't want your internet to slow down at peak periods such as lunchtime and evenings you should look for a business broadband package. A business only provider won't have high levels of gaming, You Tube and Netflix. You can expect to pay between £50/month and £100/month for a high quality business service, but the additional cost will be more than covered by the improved productivity from the business service.

    Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding web traffic management and what it means for your business. As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons associated with this option. It is all about working out what is right for the nature of your business and the work you carry out.

    If you want to compare business only broadband providers use the Amvia search to find the best provider serving your business location.

    business broadband

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