IP Precedence and DSCP Values

I keep seeing Rene saying " they are just markings and it’s up to you to configure your routers/switches to act upon these different markings." is this mean the dropping probability on the classes and priority by RFC we don’t have to take it in the consideration and focus more on the action that we all apply for each marking? meaning in reality af21 no difference af31 just depends on the action in the policy map that I will apply on , is the ef queue is different than other marking? please, let me know I’m confused a little bit here??
please, I saw also some configuration is mixing up cs and af is this normal? like

class-map match-any ABC
    match dscp cs3
    match dscp cs6
    match dscp af31

Hello Samer

You can mark your traffic with various DSCP markings such as af21 and af31 as you mention. But if you don’t configure your routers to respond to such markings, nothing will happen. The traffic will just be served on a first come first serve basis. The RFC mentions how each DSCP value should be dealt with, however, the configuration of such mechanisms are up to the administrator of the network itself.

Yes, this is absolutely correct.

Yes this is normal. Standard DSCP values include AF, CS and EF codes. These can be found at the following link where the specific DSCP values are also indicated:

I hope this has been helpful!


Hi Lazaros,
I understood what Precedence is and also Differentiated services but after that I am totally confused about the remaining.
If possible please simply it to me.

Hello Muhammad

The rest of the lesson deals with Per Hop Behaviour. Essentially, this just refers to the way or the behaviour with which each router (per hop) will deal with a packet when it receives it based on the code point values found within the DS field. So when we talk about PHB it really means how the router will handle the particular packet compared to all the rest it receives whenever there is congestion.

The default PHB has a DSCP value of zero or 000000. Such packets are treated as best effort, meaning, first come first serve. No special treatment or priority is given to theses.

The next three sections simply talk about ways in which the DS field is used and interpreted.

Class-Selector PHB is a way in which the new structure of the field can be compatible with the old IP Precedence structure described earlier in the article. Class selector PHB separates the DS field into two 3-bit sections. The first three bits are only used, just like in IP Precedence, thus making it compatible.

Assured Forwarding PHB is a set of predefined DSCP values that are placed into four queues (or classes) with three levels of drop precedence. This just means that there are three different levels that packets can be defined with that will either make the eligible to be dropped (or not) if congestion occurs. These are simply another set of defined parameters.

Expedited forwarding PHB is just an additional construct that is used to mark packets that are sent into a priority queue, this is a queue in addition to the other four mentioned in Assured Forwarding PHB. Packets marked with EF (or 101110 in binary) will be placed into this priority queue to be sent before all other queues.

These are just definitions of how the specific field in the IP packet is being used and interpreted. They are predefined methodologies of applying QoS to packets that correspond to specific values in the DSCP field.

I hope this has been helpful!


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In DS field drop

Class 1 .2.3.4

What’s AF11 , AF21& etc and 6 binary numbers ? I can’t understand it

AF21 = 010010

32 16 8 4 2 1
0 1 0 0 1 0

16+2 = 18 . It,s not 21 i’m confused


Hello Abdul

The designation of the various AF values allows for a specific method of classification. The classes (first three bits) are separated into 4 and each class has a different drop probability (second three bits). All of this however simply translates into a six bit number which can be expressed either as a decimal or using the AF notation.

In the lesson, Rene states that the AF values can be converted to their decimal values by using the forumla:

decimal value = 8x + 2y where X=class value and Y=drop value.

So in your case of AF21 where X = 2 and Y = 1.

So the decimal value of AF21 = 8 * 2 + 1 * 2 = 18. Looking at the table we see that the binary value of AF21 is 010010 which is indeed 18.

Note here that the resulting decimal value has nothing to do with the number after the “AF” designation. The AFXY designation simply shows the position of the Assured Forwarding (AF) definition in the table. Take a look at the table again:

Notice AF22 is in class 2 (column 2) and drop medium (row 2). AF 43 is in class 4 (column 4) drop high (row 3).

So for AFXY, X=class and Y=drop precedence. This is also confirmed in RFC3260.

I hope this has been helpful!


Hi Team,

Very well explained as are all the lessons I’ve looked at so far. I am confused about something though regarding the AF marking. I am reading in some places that AF1 has less priority than AF4 and in other places I am reading that there is no preferential treatment for an AF class over another. So for instance, in one network AF4 could be more important than AF1 but then passing to another router in a different network, AF1 could more more important than AF4.

Could you just clarify for me please.


Hello Shaun

You must remember that all of these values found within the DS field are simply markings within the IP header. What a device does with them and how it interprets them are up to the administrator of the particular network through which they are being transmitted.

For example, a packet may traverse various networks that are administrated by separate entities.
One such network may be configured to provide higher priority to AF1 than AF4, another a higher priority to AF4 rather than AF1, and another network may ignore these markings all together. The Assured Forwarding PHB definitions do however have an expected default behaviour of vendor equipment for such markings, and these are described in RFC 2597. This document is actually quite an easy read, and describes how these classes are expected to be dealt with by default.

I hope this has been helpful!



Awesome, thank you very much Laz.


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Hey Everyone, the QOS is very very interesting. I have an infrastructure with Cisco jabber installed on phones Android and IOS. I saw in the Cisco Jabber there is an Option DSCP that you can enable. My questions is when the frame leaves the Wireless Device to the AP ( Lightweight ), is the Frame will be tagged with DSCP EF? and what about browsing web in the Phone? Does the AP can differ both Traffic? And then there is a Capwap tunnel to the WLC with i think will have the same DSCP. I know there is NBAR2 , but should i configure also the interface between the switch and the AP for QOS Voice.
Thanks and the forum is really good, i am learning many things.

Hello Mina

It’s great to hear that you like the forum and the lessons!!

The implementation of QoS on voice applications installed on a mobile device such as an Android or iOS phone involves various parameters. Specific DSCP values are configured on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM). When you enable the DSCP option on Jabber, it then retrieves those preconfigured DSCP values from the CUCM and applies them directly to the IP headers of the RTP media packets.

This will take place only on the voice packets sent from the Jabber application on the phone. This will not affect the DSCP values of other traffic (web, email, etc) that originate from the phone. Remember however that DSCP values are at Layer 3. This means that DSCP values will only actually have any effect when they reach the next router in their journey, which may be beyond the AP, and well within the wired network.

Therefore, these DSCP values must then be translated to some form of QoS that will kick in for the wireless portion of the network, which is at Layer 2. Now in order for this to function correctly, the phone must support 802.11e which is a standard that defines QoS enhancements for Wi-Fi. This is sometimes referred to as Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM). This and must also be supported by the Wi-Fi network. The Android phone (or any wireless device for that matter) must have this capability in order to ensure QoS for the wireless portion of the journey.

Now you must also configure APs, the controller, as well as the wired network to respond to these QoS values as well. You can see some example QoS configurations at the following Cisco documentation:

You may also find this Cisco community thread useful as well:

I hope this has been helpful!


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Hey Laz,
thank you so much for this great explanation.
i read so many articles to understand what is exactly WMM and CAC. I am trying to understand what are these features. I think my brain shutdown. I will try to read it again another day.

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Thank you for well explained lesson. But I just confused after reading this in the forum.
“meaning in reality af21 no difference af31 just depends on the action in the policy map that I will apply on
Yes, this is absolutely correct.”
Rene says in the AF PHB section that “Class 4 has the highest priority. For example, any packet from class 4 will always get better treatment than a packet from class 3.”
So, as I understand there should be difference AF21 and AF31. Ok, They have same low drop probability but they have also different class priority marking. And, if each administrator define different policy to these classification there will be no standardization. Am I right? Or not?
Thank you.

Hello Ike

When it comes to QoS, there are various distinct mechanisms taking place. The first is classification. This involves identifying (or classifying) traffic so we know what it is (voice, web, video, file transfer etc…)

Second comes marking, which is where the IP Precedence and DSCP values come in. This process chooses among the classified traffic, what priority, or what IP precedence and DSCP values each class of traffic should have, and it is applied to that traffic.

Now up to this point, we’ve only identified and put labels on our packets. If a router is not actually instructed to respond to these labels, it will treat them all the same, using “best-effort”.

Differentiated services, as described in this lesson, involves a series of standard responses to these markings, and these are defined within various RFCs. These RFCs define how to interpret the 8-bit DS field found within the IP header, and also define a “default” or standardized predetermined treatment of the various values found within it.

On a Cisco device, if queuing is enabled, (i.e. if a service policy is applied to an interface), then the markings will by default be treated as described in this lesson.

By default, the class defines which queue the packet will be placed in while the drop probability defines how likely it will be dropped in the event that the queue becomes full. But, these default behaviours can be adjusted and changed however you like, by changing the policy maps associated with the queuing.

I hope this has been helpful!


Thank you very much Laz for clarification. As I understand, this is kind of passport queue while entering in a country. If anybody has diplomatic passport ( cs5 value ) , by default they have higher priority but passport control management can decide in which queue they will enter and how they will be treated (snacks, refreshments…). If there’s no policy enabled, everybody will be in the same queue and treated with FIFO.
Thank you again.

Hello Ike

Yes, that’s a perfect analogy, and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing that!!


Hi Laz,

I am unable to understand how are you getting these Hexadecimal values for different classes and how are you choosing bits as well ( mean what pattern you are following) for different classes.

Also at corner you used DROP then vertically classes and horizontally Low, medium and High but concern is that how should I read it this whole chart, I am totally confused after reaching at the end of the topic?

Hi Laz,

Could you guide that DSCP value of specific class sector name with ip precedence name mean how should i read it and what are the meanings of all ip precedence name as well as how shall we use these value ?

Hello Pradyumna

I assume you are referring to section 2.3 Assured Forwarding PHB. Hexidecimal is not used in this lesson at all. All the DSCP and IP Precedence values as well as the class and drop probability values are in binary. The assured forwarding names (AF11, AF22 etc) are simply labels where AF stands for assured forwarding and the numbers coming after them refer to the class and drop probabilities.

For example, AF22 is class 2 and drop probability 2. AF41 is class 4 drop probability 1. Class 4 has the highest priority while 3 is the highest drop probability. These AF designations and their corresponding binary values are predefined in RFC2597 and have particular meanings when applied to queuing and congestion avoidance.

Here is the table you are referring to:

The first column indicates the drop probability of Low, Medium, High. Then in the next three columns, you have the classes. In each cell, you have the assured forwarding value in both binary and in AF notation. The first three bits are the class. Notice that all of the binary notations for class 1 have the first three bits as 001. This corresponds to class 1. The first three bits of all values in the class 2 column is 010 which corresponds to class 2. The same with class 3 and 4. Notice that these are the same numbers as those found in the third digit of the AF notation which specifies class. AF11 is class 1 while AF31 is class 3.

Now the last three bits for all Low drop probability are 010. For medium 100 and for high 110. These don’t correspond to the fourth digit of the AF notation, but do correspond to the level of drop probability, as predefined in the RFC.

I hope this has been helpful!


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Thanks a lot laz for very simple and best explanation but could you where do we need these values?