Before net neutrality was abolished, Internet Service Providers were not permitted to interfere in any Internet traffic. Now, throttling is a line of defense and profitability. ISPs can slow down some particular sites, or block them completely based on content.
ISPs have the power to throttle your Internet connection speed. That means they can slow your connection down to the point that using the Internet can be more bother than it’s worth. Users may find certain sites so bogged down that they cannot even load properly, or running so slowly that they abandon the site altogether. They may blame the website itself, and never be aware that it is their ISP playing favorites. They do not realize that they are being deliberately throttled.
Some sites and applications are automatic triggers for your ISP to throttle your connections. Torrent websites are an automatic red flag for many ISPs, as well as other bandwidth hogs like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. Even if you are supposed to have unlimited data, you may be throttled in any applications that require a higher amount of downloaded data.
Spending too much time on sites like these and downloading large files are triggers for your ISP to throttle your connection. It may seem, however, that you just have a poor connection. How can you tell the difference? There are a few ways to test if it’s a tricky connection or deliberate throttling by your ISP:
This is our favorite speed test website. It detects your Internet connection speeds with a good accuracy. SpeedTest.net can give you an indication that you are being throttled. Just check if it gives you results that show your current speeds are significantly slower than you are accustomed to with your ISP.
Battle for the Net’s Internet Health Test
This is an application that runs multiple tests over several routes, looking for flaws in connections. If one or more of the connections is slow, this can be a red flag that your connection is being throttled by your ISP.
Test by using an Ethernet cable
Wireless connections are not always reliable and the signal will be weaker if the router is distant from you. This can result in slowing your Internet speeds. A wired connection will always give you the most speed your ISP is providing you with. If you can’t create a wired connection, move your device as close to the router as you can. Unless you are being throttled, this should make a difference in your connection speed.
Test your connections periodically
By the end of the month, you may find that your bandwidth is more limited than the beginning of the month, even if you have unlimited bandwidth. You may find your connection speeds significantly higher at the beginning of the month and sluggish at best by the end of the month. This indicates that your ISP is throttling you.
How to avoid ISP throttling
The answer is a Virtual Private Network. A VPN guarantees your privacy by connecting you securely and anonymously to the Internet. Your ISP cannot spy on you or track your activities if you are using this kind of software. This allows you the freedom to visit any site that may be vulnerable to throttling without the ISP having any ability to slow you down.
The ISP only sees that you are on a VPN, but they have no idea what you are doing while you are there. That’s because the VPN encrypts the connection. Now, the ISP won’t be able to throttle your bandwidth for any reason, such as favoring one site or service over another. You can download, upload, stream and browse with no deliberate interference from nosy ISPs.