This invention is suited for a packet network that carries bursty data. A mechanism is coupled to an edge node for coding bursty information into a digital format at either a first coding rate of a second coding rate which is less than the first rate. A mechanism senses traffic overload of one or more intermediate nodes carrying the bursty informaton. A mechanism which is responsive to the overload sensing mechanism causes the coding mechanism to switch from the first rate to the second rate while a traffic overload is sensed. Thus, network demand requirements are reduced and the overload will be alleviated.