You may have heard of the term from your techy friends, but what exactly is ISP throttling? If you’ve experienced low internet bandwidth allocation (slow and faulty connection) at certain periods within your monthly billing cycle with your ISP or if you’ve noticed slow loading times when you visit certain websites, then you might have been a victim of ISP throttling. As alarming and scary as that sounds, you don’t need to worry too much about ISP throttling because this situation is still within the control of your ISP. There are a few (valid) reasons why your bandwidth would be throttled by your ISP and there are also a couple of ways on how you can get in control of this issue.
What you Need to Know about ISP Throttling
There are several reasons why your ISP could be ‘throttling’ your browsing speeds, and some providers would tell you upfront that their service is subject to throttling or data caps so be sure to review the fine print in your contract so that you’re aware of this and to decide whether you’re fine with this or not.
Here are some of the reasons why ISPs would throttle your bandwidth allocation:
- To reduce internet traffic or “congestion” in certain times of the day or at certain days. ISP throttling usually occurs during high-traffic hours to limit the amount of data ISPs have to process, and to save on buying more expensive (server) equipment.
- Without you knowing, your ISP may have already set a cap on your current internet service/data plan which triggers the ‘throttling’ when you reach your plan’s maximum limit or cap. This is one of the many marketing techniques ISPs employ to push their subscribers for higher data plans.
- To require streaming websites to pay more for full-speed connections. This is typically the case when your ISP throttles your internet speed for certain websites only.
How do you know if your bandwidth is being throttled
If a data/bandwidth cap isn’t specified in your ISP contract, it’s hard to really know whether your ISP is throttling your internet speeds or if this is due to something else. If you notice that your internet browsing speed is slower at certain time of the day/month, then you can do an internet speed test to help you know for sure. As you make this a habit, remember to keep a log or screenshots of the test results so that you have a basis for comparison and these will also serve as evidence of ISP throttling by your provider. There are plenty of free internet speed test websites such as Speedtest.net by Oookla and Fast.com by Netflix that you an access when you’re in doubt. To check if your ISP is throttling your speed when you visit specific websites (type-based throttling), a traffic shaping test will help you be sure. These tools review the performance of various websites and applications to see if your ISP is “shaping” incoming/outgoing traffic from these websites.
Tip: Be sure to keep a log of all the tests you conduct as well as their results, and to conduct these tests during different times in the day/month within the span of your billing cycle.
How do you fix ISP throttling?
As we’ve mentioned, ISP throttling is within the control of your service provider, so the obvious way to fix this is to have them stop doing it. That is, after you’ve done some research (result logs), and can prove to them that you indeed are experiencing bandwidth throttling.
When you’ve proven your case and point, most ISPs would either fix the problem for you or offer higher internet speeds without charging extra. This method would be the confrontational approach but there’s another (less confrontational) approach.
You can get a VPN to counter type-based throttling. If your ISP outright “ignores” your complaints, even if you have complete pieces of evidence at hand, then a VPN will take care of the problem for you.
Since a VPN re-routes and “tunnels” your internet traffic, your ISP can’t tell which sites you’ve been accessing and therefore (it) cannot throttle your bandwidth for your activities online. There are far more benefits you can get from a VPN provider other than countering type-based throttling.
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