There are few things more frustrating than endless buffering, especially when you're trying to watch a show or game online. It could be that your bandwidth is being throttled. But how can you tell if an internet service provider (ISP) is controlling your internet speed? And if they are, is there a way to stop it?
Bandwidth throttling is when your internet service provider (ISP) deliberately slows down your internet speed. There are many legitimate reasons to do this, like managing network congestion or for users with lower-speed internet service plans. However, ISPs may still throttle your bandwidth even with an unlimited contract.
ISPs won’t throttle everyone — it can depend on lots of factors, including what your online activity looks like. ISPs can see what websites you visit and, depending on that information, they can decide whether to throttle your connection or not.
ISPs can throttle your bandwidth for the following reasons:
You’ve probably asked yourself, “Am I being throttled?”. We will explain how to check if your slow internet speeds are being caused by throttling.
If your internet speed drops suddenly for no apparent reason, your ISP likely throttles your bandwidth. Lagging videos or slow downloads are obvious red flags, but you can simply perform an internet speed test to determine whether you experience any speed drops. There are tons of speed-checking tools available online that are really easy to use. However, some ISPs can artificially inflate your speed test results, so keep in mind that it is not a foolproof way.
Here are the steps to follow when you want to find out if someone is throttling you:
Alternatively, you can perform this internet health test to check your connection speed across popular access points and detect slowdowns.
Of course, make sure to check how much bandwidth your internet plan offers to make sure your throttling is not the result of data capping. This is a process where ISPs limit bandwidth due to users exceeding their data limits. There might also be other ways to increase your internet speed.
Check out our video on bandwidth throttling below.
Bandwidth throttling is not illegal in most countries. In some cases, it is even necessary as it helps ISPs manage their network usage and allocate bandwidth. The absence of it could even result in an unstable service or connection disruptions.
However, as with most online tools, bandwidth throttling can be used for ill purposes too. An unproven but popular theory is that big media sites pay ISPs for faster load times; it’s one of the ways ISPs make money. In return, ISPs may throttle competitor sites or favor their proprietary sites, manipulating your exposure to specific sites and information. This has been the core of the net neutrality debate in the US.
While it is challenging to avoid bandwidth throttling entirely, here are a few ways to minimize it:
A VPN service hides everything you do online by encrypting your traffic. Since your traffic will look gibberish to the ISP, they won’t choose you first when they look for high-priority targets.
However, no matter if you’re using a VPN or not, your ISP can still throttle the speed for all users during high-traffic periods of the day. Some providers just can’t keep up with the amount of data processed, even though they promised you ‘unlimited plans.’
NordVPN is the best choice to decrease unethical bandwidth throttling based on your online actions. Its ultra-fast speeds guarantee you the best performance whatever you do. NordVPN offers tons of servers to choose from, so you can always find the one that works best for you.
Moreover, NordVPN uses ultra-strong encryption and will protect your privacy.
VPNs were created to protect personal privacy, security, and freedom of speech. Providing a potential solution to bandwidth throttling is just one bonus – here’s what else NordVPN can do: