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How can I tell if my internet is being throttled?

Jul 23, 2019 · 3 min read

How can I tell if my internet is being throttled?

There’s probably nothing more frustrating than endless buffering when watching that long-awaited TV episode or your favorite team play a do-or-die match. 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?

ISPs throttle everyone. The question is: why?

Bandwidth, or traffic, throttling is when ISPs slow down Internet speeds for their customers. This can happen to anyone at any time and it has a direct impact on how fast you can browse the internet, stream online videos, and use P2P services.

It’s normal for an ISP to limit your bandwidth after you’ve reached your monthly data cap or if you’re not paying your bills. But if you did none of these, why are you still experiencing slow buffering?

The end of unlimited data

Is my internet being throttled?

One of the main reasons why ISPs do so is pretty simple: they can no longer fulfill their promise of providing unlimited data or high speeds because it’s expensive.

Back in the day, almost all Internet users had unlimited data plans because checking emails or reading news was all they needed. But now people spend hours watching videos and consuming massive amounts of data and bandwidth – way more than ISPs anticipated.

To solve this problem, they could raise the prices of your data plans, offer less bandwidth or data, or brand your plans as ‘unlimited’ and then set limits anyway.

Other reasons why your bandwidth may be throttled

  • ISPs may throttle connection speeds during peak times because there are simply too many users connected to the network. This means the ISP is not able to process all the data and maintain a stable service.
  • ISPs prioritize their own services or the content of their partners. Now that net neutrality rules are gone in the US, ISPs have the freedom to regulate network traffic and decide which websites or services you can and cannot access.
  • ISPs may also limit traffic coming from a particular website. For example, Verizon has previously throttled Netflix connections under the guise of a temporary network optimization test. Yeah, right.
  • End-services, like Netflix, can also throttle users’ bandwidth. The service admitted it had previously limited video speeds to provide better video quality without making customers exceed their monthly data caps. However, they eventually stopped doing this.

Can a VPN help with internet throttling?

ISPs can control your traffic because they can see what you do on the internet. Your ISP can decide whether to throttle your connection depending on what websites you visit or services you use. However, if you use a VPN your traffic gets encrypted so your ISP can no longer see what you are doing online. As a result, they can no longer throttle your connection if you're streaming.

Is my internet being throttled?

It’s easy to check whether your traffic is being throttled. If your connection speeds suddenly dropped, try connecting to a VPN and then performing the exact same actions you were doing when you noticed the drop. If you experience better speeds with the VPN, your ISP is probably throttling your connection.

You can perform this test with NordVPN because we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, bypassing throttling isn’t all NordVPN is good for. Here’s what it does for you:

Bypass internet throttling with NordVPN. Try it now with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Emily Green
Emily Green successVerified author

Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.


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