Internet Throttling: What is it and what you can do about it

4 Mins read


With an ever-increasing number of internet providers throttling our data flow, the souls of avid gamers and binge-watchers are being crushed every day. So what should we do? I say we learn what it is and fight back.

This article shares all the information you need to know about internet throttling, its causes, and how to stop it.

What is Internet Throttling?

Internet throttling is the deliberate slowing down of your internet speed by your internet service provider. It is also known as traffic shaping and bandwidth throttling.

Throttling is a strategy to restrict the data flow of your connection. Some of you might still be enjoying unlimited data for mobile devices but you should know that once you reach a certain limit, your bandwidth capacity is slowed down. Most telecom companies have stopped this practice, however, it is being acted upon.

Internet providers throttle your internet for varied reasons, which will be discussed in the next part of this article.

slow speed due to internet throttling

Why does my ISP Throttle my Internet Speeds?

If I had a nickel for every time someone had asked me this question, I would have come up with my own internet service offering throttle-free connections.

ISPs throttle your internet for different reasons; let’s examine each one by one:

1. To Handle Network Congestion

Network congestion is one of the reasons that make the Net Neutrality Act seem fair. 

Hefty internet use will impede the connection of others living in the same vicinity. To address this situation, internet providers throttle the connection of anybody utilizing high bandwidth capacity. You may encounter a slow-speed connection for a brief period, particularly in the event that you have been using high amounts of data. This mostly happens during peak hours.

2. Limited Data Allowance

Most people experience internet throttling during the end of the month. The reason is that their internet plan has a data cap. If you have subscribed to a capped internet plan, chances are that your connection will start steeping low by the month-end, this is because you might just be reaching the limit.

Ideally, you should subscribe to an internet plan that has no data cap. If your provider does not offer or charges a lot for such plans, you might want to consider switching to a better ISP. For instance, a year back I scrolled through Spectrum offers and found that they provide customers with high-speed internet, unlimited data allowance, and free modem without any contracts and I switched to it immediately – the best ‘hasty’ decision I ever made!

3. To Restrict Certain Websites

Internet Throttling Restrict Certain Websites

Using certain apps and sites can activate internet throttling. This happens when ISPs are paid to restrict your access to certain sites. For example, in the early days of Netflix, people experienced this and Netflix had to pay to get this issue sorted.

Since Federal Communications Commission passed the Net Neutrality bill, this exercise has been declared illegal.

4. To Stop you from Engaging in Illegal Acts

In case a client is taking part in some illicit activity on the web, internet providers have the authority to throttle the internet so their engagement in such activities is obstructed.

The ISPs can divide the network traffic into two lanes:

Fast Lane – does not experience throttling much. For example, social media platforms, emails, and web browsing.

Slow Lane – experience heavy amounts of throttling. For example, streaming platforms, gaming sites, and file sharing.

How to Detect Internet Throttling?

Before detection, the first thing is suspecting that your internet is being throttled. On the off chance that your internet is slower than ordinary, particularly on specific sites, this may point towards internet throttling. Below are some of the symptoms of throttling:

  • Your internet becomes slower than expected, or your Wi-Fi connection is broken.
  • Some sites appear to be impeded.
  • Your experience continuous buffering when streaming a video
  • Your download speeds start languishing.
  • Certain services or sites relatively take a lot of time to load.
Detect Internet Throttling

In the event that you do not encounter slow speeds regularly, you do not have to stress over this matter. However, in case you do, you need to find out if your connection is suffering throttling for real. The following steps will help you in this scenario:

  • The first step here is to understand the terms and conditions of your contract with your internet provider. Read it carefully and find out the data speed you pay for.
  • Next thing is to test the internet speed you are getting. Most ISPs use puffery when advertising which means that the advertised speed is not always the one that you get. Here you can rely on the speed that is mentioned in your service contract. You should be getting more or less the same amount. In order to test the internet speed, you can visit websites like Speedtest by Ookla.
  • After this, you need to install a Virtual Private Network. Test your speed again but with the VPN turned on this time. Jot down the results of both the speed tests.
  • Once you have the speed test results, compare them. If there is a slight difference between the two – it is fine. However, if you find out that there is a huge change in speeds, be sure that your internet is being throttled.

As discussed earlier, we know that the internet of the same area is throttled at the same time. So when you use a VPN service, your IP address changes and the impedance does not cover you by the result of which you observe a huge difference in speeds.

How can I Fix Internet Throttling?

Once confirmed about internet throttling, you can use the following ways to counter it.

  • Keep checking your bandwidth capacity and usage regularly. This is on account that you have subscribed to an internet plan with a data cap. Keeping an eye on your data usage can allow you to use your internet more efficiently.
  • Use a good VPN. This way, whenever you experience throttling you can change your IP address and keep enjoying superb speeds.
  • Upgrade your internet plan and subscribe to one that has a higher data allowance limit.
  • The last resort is to consider switching to a better internet provider that offers unlimited data allowance.

About author
Breanna, with the help and support of BeDoper's audience, provides fresh news on the tech and EdTech daily to your screen. Stay connected with Breanna on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest to spice up your feeds and productivate your time.
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