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What is Traffic Shaping and Why do I Need It?

aerial time-lapse night traffic on a busy city highway interchange

What is Traffic Shaping?

Traffic shaping, generally over a broadband, DSL, or cable connection, involves limiting total bandwidth use except voice to 90% of the connection.

traffic shaping pie chart where voice is represents 10 percent of the chart with all other data representing 90 percent

Wait, what?

Let’s use an analogy to describe traffic shaping more.

Say you have a pipe that’s transmitting yellow dots. Suddenly you need to transmit a string of blue dots, and it’s important that these dots stay together (this is your voice call). If the pipe is full, it will be hard to let the blue dots in together and at a quick enough time. However, if a small portion of the pipe is segmented just for blue dots, like a commuter or transit lane on the highway, then the blue dots will be transmitted in one whole string.

without shaping illustrated by string of blue dots representing voice to the left of a pipe filled with yellow dots for any other data

When you listen to a voice call, you’re processing the information instantaneously, so if you miss a couple seconds you won’t understand what is going on in the conversation. Have you ever been on a phone call and it’s cut out for a couple of seconds? This is because voice calls are transmitted in small chunks of data called “packets”, so a packet must have gotten lost on its way to you.

without shaping illustrated by 6 blue dots representing voice scattered within a pipe filled with yellow dots for any other data

That’s why it’s important to have some of your bandwidth saved just for voice. It doesn’t matter what order the letters in an email come in because you receive the full email message at once, not word by word, but for a phone call you need to hear everything in order and right after the other, otherwise you’d have no idea what’s being said!

Is traffic shaping usually already set up out of the box?

Most net2phone Canada clients come to us with no traffic shaping in place. During our Provisioning process, we configure a wireless router for you (or give you information on how to set up your own router) set up for VoIP with traffic shaping. This can also be done by our Support team after the Provisioning process if you move locations, add another router, or change routers.

If you’re unsure about whether traffic shaping is available on your current router, our Sales team will include our recommended router in your quote so that there aren’t any additional cost surprises after you begin the Provisioning process.

Where do I need traffic shaping?

Traffic shaping should be set up in any location where you’ll be using your VoIP phones. This includes your main office and any satellite offices your employees might be using, including home offices. Not to worry though, our Support team can help set up traffic shaping at any location for you and your team.

Does traffic shaping affect any of my other internet activity?

Nope! You won’t even notice the difference! Voice packets are very small, so 10% of your connection is more than enough for all of your calling to go through seamlessly. It’s more that they need to go through together and at a fast speed, like taking the highway.

with shaping illustrated by a string of blue dots representing voice passing within the pipe underneath dots for all other data

“Experiencing… than… call quality? Maybe… book a demo… net2phone Canada… provisioning… process…”

“Sorry, you’re cutting out. Maybe you should book a demo with net2phone Canada and get yourself set up with perfect VoIP quality.”

“Yeah… idea!”