What is ISP Throttling and How to Avoid It
More and more internet service providers are throttling their customers’ bandwidth, but there’s a way you can fight back and keep the speeds which you pay for. This article should help you in building and understanding of what’s bandwidth throttling, why do ISP’s do it and how can you avoid it.
What is ISP Throttling and How it Works
Connection throttling is a technique that ISPs (Internet Service Provider) employ to restrict your bandwidth, usually after you’ve hit a pre-defined monthly limit. However, it can also be done when a provider wants to free a load of their servers during peak times. Why? To save money, presumably. Unfortunately, quite a few users might not be aware that their ISP might be playing tricks on them.
When your ISP starts messing with your connection speed, you will typically find playing online games, streaming HD videos, and even browsing the web annoying and frustrating. Bandwidth throttling usually impacts your experience on services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.
Unfortunately, the practice of ISP throttling is quite common. Paying for the 250mb/s connection doesn’t always mean you’ll be browsing the Internet at such speed. The same logic applies to the so-called “unlimited data packages.” It’s advised to read the fine print before you sign up for a service as you could be agreeing to ISP throttling unwittingly.
If you’ve already signed up for it, though, don’t worry. There’re ways you can fight back (more on this later) by using third-party services.
Why ISPs Use Throttling
The primary reason ISPs throttle your connection is because their servers are experiencing high, or higher than usual, levels of traffic. Imagine that your internet connection is a roadway for the digital data flow, and, just like a real roadway, high amounts of traffic can cause jams. The internet works similarly, and so ISPs use throttling to manage their networks overloads, unfortunately, without notifying (with very few exceptions) their customers.
Most users experience a connection slow-down during the so-called peak hours (around 17:00 and onwards) when a lot of people within the same area are all active on the network. Once the network traffic hits the threshold, ISPs start slowing down the bandwidth for users who consume the largest amounts of data; not surprisingly, online gamers are the first ones to experience issues with their connectivity.
Some ISPs could use throttling on purpose as a powerplay. By slowing down traffic on specific sites, they might be pressuring owners of those services for a kickback. The logic behind this hypothetical is that Internet users tend to refrain from web services that have long load times, etc. While such devious activities are not applied often, with the repeal of net neutrality they’re certainly an option that IPS might be willing to use.
Avoid ISP Throttling with a VPN
The best way to get around bandwidth throttling is with the help of Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN is a network technology that’s designed to ensure your online security and privacy. However, over time this technology found other uses amount Internet enthusiasts. One of them is stopping ISP throttling.
When you connect to the Internet over a VPN, it reroutes and encrypts your connection. In turn, ISPs are not able to identify your IP address or virtual location, which means they won’t be able to throttle your bandwidth based on your online activities.
Although the use of VPN services is increasing, misconceptions regarding this technology remain. One of the most pervasive is that VPNs slow-down your Internet connection. While that was true decades ago, the present-day reality is vastly different (of course a lot depends on the service provider). In most cases, you won’t even notice a difference when browsing the web when connected to the Internet over a VPN. In specific instances, you can even enhance your bandwidth speed with a VPN.
When looking for a VPN service, there are a few things you should consider. Unfortunately, not all services are trustworthy and reliable. As a rule of thumb, it is best to stay away from free VPN providers as they tend to log data associated with your online activities when using their services. Also, it’s recommended to make a personal checklist and see if a provider offers all the features that you’re after.
Most VPNs have a trial version. If you are finding that your bandwidth is regularly being throttled, it is a good idea to go ahead and try out the service before making an investment. In any case, using a VPN is a great security and privacy measure. The fact of the matter is that its use to bypass ISP throttling is a convenient side effect.
ISP throttling problem that’s not going away anytime soon. It generally takes place during peak times when the network is busy, and, in most cases, customers have no idea about that. However, some ISPs enforce a data cap which, when hit, throttles your internet until the next billing cycle.
You can usually avoid throttling with a good VPN. If this doesn’t work, it is probably a sign that it’s time to make a change regarding your ISP.
Image Credits: Pixabay, NordVPN