Mobile VPN software vendor NetMotion Wireless yesterday announced the availability of Mobility XE version 7.1, which adds quality of service (QOS) features that should help mobile workers using latency-sensitive video or voice-over-IP (VoIP) applications.

NetMotion’s QOS feature uses eight different levels of traffic shaping to let organizations prioritize traffic on the VPN. By doing so, an enterprise can establish policies to dedicate more bandwidth to applications that are more critical or those that need to provide a real-time experience, like VoIP.

Previously, the Mobility XE package provided similar functionality by effectively turning off some user applications to dedicate more bandwidth to others, said Tom Johnston, NetMotion’s senior vice president of products and marketing. With the version 7.1 release, the various levels of traffic shaping can prioritize certain applications while ensuring that all applications receive at least a minimal amount of bandwidth needed to support some activity.

“If you want, voice or whatever real-time application the user is running can get 99% of the available bandwidth, but we’re able to open up the remaining bandwidth on a ‘best effort basis,’” said John Knopf, NetMotion’s director of product management. In this scenario, best-effort applications would be “responsive but lethargic” to the user, he said.

Knopf noted that only network administrators—not users—can implement application-prioritization policies to let enterprises manage VPN resources. The fact that these policies exist in a software environment means they can be altered with relative ease, he said.

“Putting QOS at the layer we have put it is easy to work with, so it can be changed at any time,” Knopf said. “If you implement it at the network layer and need to make a change, you have a real project on your hands.”

While the Mobility XE 7.1 release lets administrators prioritize traffic to dedicate a percentage of existing bandwidth to an application, the solution cannot overcome situations where there simply is not enough bandwidth available due to a poor connection or an overextended network, Knopf said.

“We’re still beholden to the network … we can’t override what’s happening at the network level,” he said.