isp throttling
Internet Tips and Tricks

What is ISP Throttling (& How to Protect Yourself from Slow Internet Speed) 

Picture this: you’re binge-watching your favorite show, and the dreaded buffering icon suddenly appears. We’ve all been there. If your internet plan should be up to the task, but you still experience buffering, the culprit behind the slowdown might be ISP throttling.   

This blog post will demystify ISP throttling and help you understand how internet speed works. So, buckle up as we dive deep into the world of ISP throttling, how it affects users, and what you can do to fight back. 

What is ISP Throttling & Why ISPs Do It?

First things first: let’s define ISP throttling. Imagine your internet connection is a highway, and your ISP (internet service provider) is the traffic cop. Just like the police can slow down the flow of cars on the road, so too can ISPs slow down the data you need for streaming, gaming, browsing, and other online activities. 

In a nutshell, ISP throttling is when your ISP deliberately slows down your internet connection. 

There are different types of throttling that ISPs use to control the flow of data: 

  • Bandwidth throttling: Slowing down your connection speed based on how much data you’re using. 
  • Data throttling: Capping your data usage after you reach a certain limit, also found in plans with no data caps. 
  • Application throttling or selective throttling: Targeting specific applications (like Netflix) and slowing down their traffic, often to promote their own services. 

But why would they do that, you ask?  

ISPs might engage in throttling for various reasons, such as: 

  • Managing network congestion: ISPs need to ensure all users get stable and reliable internet; therefore, they must resort to throttling to prevent slow internet speeds for everyone. 
  • Prioritizing certain users or services: ISPs can prioritize online activities, such as video conferencing, streaming, or gaming. 
  • Encouraging users to update their internet plans: By throttling data usage on lower-tier plans, ISPs can persuade users to upgrade to more expensive plans with more data or faster speeds. 
  • Complying with regulations: ISPs can implement certain measures to manage network traffic while not violating net neutrality principles. 

Nonetheless, several ISPs have violated net neutrality principles, including Madison River Communications, Comcast, Telus, AT&T, Windstream Communications, MetroPCS, Cavalier, Cogent, Frontier, Fuse, DirecPC, RCN, Wide Open West, Sprint, and Verizon. The violations include blocking or slowing down specific services, redirecting search queries, and blocking competing services. 

How ISP Throttling Affects Your Internet Experience

Now that we know what ISP throttling is, let’s discuss how it impacts everyday internet users. Throttling can lead to slower internet speeds, buffering, and longer download times. But it doesn’t stop there. Throttling can seriously hinder specific activities, like streaming videos or playing online games. 

Slow internet speeds: 

When an ISP throttles a user’s internet connection, it can result in slower download and upload speeds, making it difficult to use the internet. 

Buffering issues: 

Throttling is notorious for causing streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video to buffer endlessly, interrupting our movie nights and binge-watching sessions. 

Online gaming troubles: 

Gamers can experience increased latency and lag, which can be frustrating and even lead to disconnections during crucial moments in gameplay. 

Unreliable performance: 

Throttling can also make the user’s internet connection less reliable, with more frequent interruptions or dropped connections. 

Higher costs: 

If an ISP offers different services with faster speeds or higher data usage limits, users may be forced to upgrade to a more expensive plan to avoid throttling. This can result in higher monthly costs for the user. 

Violation of net neutrality principles: 

Some users may also feel that ISP throttling violates the principles of net neutrality, which hold that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without preferential treatment for certain types of traffic, services, or users. 

Detecting ISP Throttling: Signs and Tests

Suspect you’re a victim of ISP throttling? Below are some methods to help you play detective. 

You can measure your internet speed and compare it to the speeds promised by your ISP. If you notice a significant drop, throttling might be the culprit. 

Next, monitor your internet usage to check if your ISP has imposed any data caps. If you’ve exceeded your data limit, your ISP could’ve slowed your connection speed. 

You can also test your connection with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to see if there’s any difference between using the VPN or not. 

Lastly, you can contact your ISP and ask for an explanation. Provide evidence to support your claim and see if they can help. 

While slow internet speeds are frustrating, you should remember that there may be other reasons your internet connection is slow, such as device issues or interference. So, it’s important to rule out these factors before concluding that your ISP is throttling your connection. 

How to Prevent or Bypass ISP Throttling for Better Internet Speeds

You’ve discovered you’re being throttled. Now what?  

We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve to help you prevent or bypass ISP throttling: 

  • Use a VPN: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt your data and hide your online activities from your ISP. It typically slows your internet down. But in the case of ISP throttling, a VPN can even boost your speed. 
  • Switch to a different ISP: If you’re fed up with your current ISP, consider switching to one that doesn’t throttle or has more transparent throttling policies. 
  • Upgrade your internet plan: Sometimes, upgrading to a higher-tier plan with your current ISP can alleviate throttling issues, especially if you exceed data limits or bandwidth caps. 
  • Optimize your network: Ensuring you have the best home network can help improve your internet speeds. Regularly update your router’s firmware, place your router in a central location, and use Ethernet when possible. 

Key Takeaways 

Congratulations! You’ve now learned what ISP throttling is, how it affects users, and how to detect and prevent it. As you can see, understanding ISP throttling is crucial for anyone who wants to enjoy a smooth and speedy online experience. 

In the race for the fastest data, don’t let ISP throttling put the brakes on your internet connection. Ready to leave ISP throttling behind and enjoy a great internet experience? Contact Race Communications at 877-722-3833 or submit an inquiry today. 

On your marks, get set, surf!