Did your internet speed suddenly drop down to 100Mbps for no apparent reason when you are supposed to get 200Mbps for what you pay for? I guess you are not alone! Internet throttling had been an intense controversy for years now; some suggest these are intentional while others back off by excusing network congestion.
However, if you ask me personally, I stand on both ends of this argument. Why you may ask? For that, let’s decode and understand what internet throttling is, why does internet throttling occur and how to find out if your ISP is throttling your internet speed.
What is Internet or Bandwidth Throttling?
First of all, let’s be clear that internet throttling, or more commonly known as bandwidth throttling, is entirely intentional and often gets listed as the measure for protecting you against congestion and network server crashes.
Network throttling may occur at different junctions on the network. For example, in any LAN network or public WiFi network, system administrators often implement bandwidth capping per user for reducing anyone’s bandwidth consumption that is supplied. Or in other cases, it can cut off excess internet usage for specific internet protocols such as Torrents.
Why Do Companies Throttle Your Internet?
Alright, then! That’s completely justified for public WiFi places and cafes, but does my home internet throttle where I pay the total price? There’s an exciting reason as well. Your home broadband connection or even your cellular mobile connection may occasionally dip for dozens of factors, and one of them being bandwidth throttling.
Don’t worry if you experience dips in your broadband connection, as unfavorable weather may also be an overlooked reason. If we omit poor weather conditions from this equation, here are the reasons why you might be facing internet bandwidth throttling:
1. Reaching your monthly data cap
One reason which I noticed over the past few months is when I reach dangerously closer to my data cap. In that case, your ISP may throttle down your bandwidth for saving you from exhausting your monthly data cap. This issue, however, is only apparent for certain ISPs, notably the one I subscribed to.
2. Network Congestion
This is by far the most obvious yet overlooked reason for bandwidth throttling. Let me give an example; every day during the evening, my bandwidth consistently throttles down to half partly because this is when people return from work and fire up Netflix or YouTube for spending the rest of their evenings.
In this case, your ISP may receive high traffic in a short period of time and they throttle down internet speed to make sure all users access the internet at a good speed.
3. Paid Bandwidth Prioritisation
Speaking of binging content throughout the evening, do you know how many times Netflix has been penalized for throttling down internet bandwidth? Dozens of times, for years, across all regions, Netflix is available.
Because of the high amount of bandwidth Netflix and YouTube consume for streaming HD and even 4K content, ISPs have been observed to throttle down an entire city in terms of internet bandwidth. This conflict between streaming services and internet service providers had been surging until 2018, back when paid network prioritization became legal and internet neutrality laws were changed in the same year.
Is Internet Throttling Illegal?
Since 2018, paid bandwidth prioritization for applications apart from streaming had been legalized, and in most cases, while users get subscribed to certain ISPs, the provider makes the user aware of this limitation in printed documentation.
However, if you think neutrally, ISPs aren’t throttling your internet bandwidth but instead equally distributing limited bandwidth available to them. Suppose your neighbor fire up Torrent for downloading his favorite movies in Bluray! In that case, bandwidth throttling will benefit you in getting an adequate bandwidth by throttling down your neighbor.
How To Find Out If My Internet Bandwidth is Being Throttled By My ISP?
Here are some practical steps which you can perform for finding out if your ISP is really throttling your bandwidth:
1. Run repetitive speed tests
The easiest way for finding out whether your ISP is throttling your internet bandwidth or not is by running internet speed tests. You can either use Google’s own speed test tool, or you can use Speedtest by Ookla.
Make sure you are connected to the nearest server, using the multi-connection mode, and aren’t confusing between Mbps and MB/s. Once you have run a speed test a couple of times and estimated an average, simply compare the results with the advertised speeds you agreed upon.
2. Track your bandwidth with a VPN
We often assume that VPNs may limit our bandwidth over what’s already defined by our ISP. But in reality, if network congestion is the culprit for bandwidth throttling, reliable VPNs such as Cloudflare 126.96.36.199 or NordVPN can speed up your internet by rerouting the traffic.
If network congestion is the primary case, once you turn on your VPN, you may see significant improvements in internet bandwidth. However, that is only applicable between shorter distances, especially if you and your ISP servers are nearby.
3. Comparing with your neighbor
If your neighbor is fetching internet from the same ISP, you can compare both of your bandwidths at certain intervals. If you both live in close proximity or, for better, are just next door, you can find out whether really it’s your ISP or your crappy router.
Back in the day, I had been blaming my internet service provider for throttling down my internet bandwidth without realizing that my ancient internet router wasn’t rated for my bandwidth and cannot even handle the number of internet clients I had connected.
For conclusion then! Bandwidth throttling is an intensely heated argument between internet service providers and users. However, if you face similar issues, you now know what to do without directly pointing fingers at your ISP for crappy internet.
And be sure that your internet isn’t bottlenecked elsewhere in your network, just like I had. Anyways, what are your thoughts on the ongoing internet throttling problem? Are you facing the same? Let us know in the comments.