What does NBN Quality of Service (QOS) mean?

Broadband services have to date operated on a “best effort” model. This means two things, first no guarantees for bandwidth (i.e. download/upload rates), second no preference given to individual subscribers. The NBN changes this. Data traffic from (or to) individual subscribers will be divided into “traffic classes”, each class assigned a different Quality of Service or QOS.

This means that traffic for voice calls (e.g. Voice over IP) or Pay TV services can be treated more favourably than other traffic types, e.g. Internet browsing or email. The result: better performance for “real time” services like voice calls or video.

Quality of Service capabilities have long been a feature of enterprise data services. The NBN provides Quality of Service to individual subscribers (e.g. households) as well. This report outlines how it will be done.

pdficon PDF version here

Background

The Internet has mostly been a best effort network, treating all traffic equally. The best effort model works well for email, Internet browsing, less so for voice and video conferencing. Broadband access is usually best effort as well.

Over the last two decades, data network Quality of Service (QOS) mechanisms have improved greatly. QOS is widely applied, e.g. to provide guaranteed bandwidth for enterprise networks.

Enterprise customers need QOS capabilities, e.g. to ensure corporate voice service quality, and will pay extra to get them. To date there has been little need for QOS for household broadband subscribers.

However, as well as replacing existing broadband access networks, the NBN also replaces the fixed line voice network. Hence this is a clear need for NBN QOS to individual subscribers, to at least ensure adequate voice services.

Click here for next page