What does internet speed shaping really mean?

August 21st, 2017 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. AussieBB

aussiebroadband - What does internet speed shaping really mean


Since this article has been written there has been a significant change to the nbn landscape,we believe it is now viable to offer an unlimited service, where CVC bandwidth is provisioned correctly. You can read more about our stance on unlimited in this blog


So, you’ve been told that your internet has just been shaped. But what does this really mean? There are a number of reasons why ISPs shape and throttle internet speeds to customers, which can result in slow internet speeds towards the end of your billing cycle. And because here at Aussie Broadband we believe in transparency, we’ve also provided ways you can prevent any end-of-the-month slowdowns.

Internet shaping 101

Internet shaping is the lowering of available bandwidth by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to a customer when that customer has exceeded their monthly limit. It’s common practice in Australia so that ISPs can continue to provide internet to customers even when they’ve exceeded their quota.

Shaping usually drops your internet speed considerably, usually around 56Kpbs. At this speed, you can no longer:

  • Stream movies
  • Play long games
  • VPN into your work computer
  • Download high resolution images.

At Aussie Broadband, we shape to 256Kpbs.

For many customers it is a frustrating experience, but there are reasons for shaping that actually save you money, compared to the alternatives. For example, if ISPs did not speed shape to some level, the increase in costs to maintain the level of download/upload speed would increase your monthly internet bill.

What are the benefits of shaping?

From a consumer point of view, there are a number of benefits to shaping versus other alternatives.

  • Predictable costs: Your monthly quota spend won’t be exceeded by incurring extra per gigabyte / per megabyte costs. You know how much your internet is going to cost you every month and that’s it.
  • Ongoing internet: Though your connection might be slower once it’s shaped, you still have access for key tasks like checking emails.
  • Cheaper running costs: ISPs provide capped plans to offer competitive pricing to consumers at all levels. If you’re a less ‘heavy’ internet user than your neighbour, why should you both pay the same amount?

What are the disadvantages of shaping?

Of course, shaping can present some challenges to heavy internet users:

  • Lack of streaming: Shaped connections usually prevent users from streaming video like Netflix and Youtube, as well as Remote Desktop connections, online gaming and large software updates. If you rely heavily on high bandwidth activities for entertainment (or work), then shaping might be a less suitable alternative than higher quotas or additional data charges.
  • Requires monitoring: To make the most of your monthly allowance you need to monitor activity. Aussie Broadband customers receive an email notifying when they have reached 80% and 100% of their monthly data, reducing the need to check within the My Aussie site consistently. Or you can check manually via the My Aussie platform on the Aussie Broadband website for an overview of your data usage.
  • No rewards for low usage days: Shaping only counts after you’ve exceeded your monthly quota, so low bandwidth usage during the month still counts against the quota.

What should I do if I’m getting shaped every month?

If you’re getting shaped every month, there’s basically three things you can do:

  1. Upgrade your monthly quota to more reflect your usage. Check your monthly usage stats to find out what they are.
  2. Cut back on your usage. Use your home internet less, try and download smartphone and laptop updates on free WiFi or at the office, and don’t stream as much video (particularly if you’re not really watching it).
  3. Use your cellular data more. If you’re exceeding your monthly home internet but have a generous smartphone allowance that you don’t exceed, you can try turning your phone into a mobile hotspot. Be wary though, it’s not hard to chew through your phone allowance in a night or two.

Shaping alternatives

There are a couple of alternatives your ISP might offer in addition to shaping bandwidth once you’ve exceeded your monthly quota.

Charge for additional quota

The common practice alternative to shaping is to automatically charge the customer extra fees when they exceed their monthly quota. Rather than shape their available bandwidth, the customer continues to receive the same level of bandwidth, but pays extra on their next bill. With most plans, extra gigabytes usually come at a higher price per gigabyte than what is covered in the plan.

Unlimited data

Some broadband plans offer ‘unlimited’ data. Under an unlimited data plan, you theoretically won’t be subject to shaping – however the actual result is you are still likely to be ‘shaped’ to an extent, reducing the effectiveness of an ‘unlimited’ plan.

Better spend management with Aussie Broadband

Want to better control how your monthly quota is spent? Aussie Broadband provides shaped data by default when customers exceed quota usage, and customers can still choose to add additional data to restore full bandwidth. That way, we give you more choice over your monthly internet bill, while still having the flexibility to obtain additional data when needed.

If your internet is getting shaped too often, contact Aussie Broadband for a free quote today.