About traffic prioritisation

Traffic prioritisation helps prioritise different types of broadband traffic to your house. It’s used to create the best possible service when you or your family are trying to do more online than your line can physically support at the time. Your service remains unlimited and we don’t limit your line speed, usage or downloads because of prioritisation.

For example, if one person in your house is on Skype and someone else is downloading a file, bandwidth priority would be given to the person using Skype as this is the most time sensitive application. Likewise, if you were streaming a film or gaming online, priority would be given to you, rather than to file sharing or music downloads. So rather than all of these activities buffering or struggling to complete, your Skype call should run smoothly and the file download will just take a little longer to finish.

By prioritising time sensitive traffic we’re providing the best possible service and experience we can, particularly if you’ve got a relatively slow broadband speed. To find out more about things that can affect your broadband speed, take a look at our speed guide.

We put every type of online activity into a category:

  • High – things that need lots of speed like gaming and internet phone-calls
  • Medium – things like streaming and general internet browsing
  • Low – things that are less time-sensitive like software updates

When you or the rest of your household are trying to do more than your line can physically support, we give time-sensitive ‘High’ activities a higher priority than Medium or Low ones, to help them run more smoothly.

Here’s an example of online activities and how they’re categorised:

Internet Activity Home Broadband Pro Add-on Business Broadband
Browsing and email Medium Medium Medium
VoIP (internet phone calls) High High High
Gaming High High High
VPN Medium High High
FTP (external) Medium High High
FTP (Plusnet) Medium High Medium
Streaming Medium Medium Medium
Software updates Low Medium Medium
Peer to Peer Low Medium Low
Other Medium High Medium

Our broadband service is provided over a shared network. Bandwidth (the amount of data that can be transmitted on any one connection) is shared between everybody who's connected to the network.

We’re constantly investing in our network, and so as customer numbers and usage grows, we increase the capacity of our network to make sure there's more than enough bandwidth for everyone.

In exceptional circumstances the network could become much busier than expected. This could be due to a major news event leading to a huge amount of online traffic, or in the rare case of network failure, for example. In these situations, we would prioritise traffic on our network to help ensure you get a great service no matter how busy it is.

If you’re having problems with your broadband speed, there are lots of reasons why this may be the case. Take a look at our broadband speed guide for help on what may be the issue and how to resolve it.