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5 Simple Ways to Know If Your ISP is Throttling Your Internet Speed
Updated · Aug 22, 2023
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Slow or choppy internet, videos taking forever to load, and websites not working properly are all just telltale signs that your internet service provider (ISP) might be throttling your internet connection.
Internet throttling refers to the intentional bandwidth reduction by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) on a user's connection.
With 5.16 billion people using the Internet worldwide, billions of online activities can result in slow Internet connection or throttling.
Here are five ways you can do to find out if you are being throttled:
Continue reading this article to check for throttling and how to stop it.
Reasons Why ISPs Throttle Your Connection
ISP throttling can cause poor user experience when using the internet, causing difficulties in streaming, downloading, and video conferencing.
its over. i can't stream like this anymore. i'm sorry. now my isp is throttling me as if it wasn't enough that my pc was crashing every 10 minute cycle. sorry to disappoint you, but i have to troubleshoot this before going live tomorrow.— hasanabi (@hasanthehun) January 3, 2022
There are many possible reasons why your internet service provider would limit your bandwidth and slow your internet speed.
But here are possible reasons:
All ISPs limit internet bandwidth and speed to manage network traffic. For example, a throttle can occur during peak internet traffic hours to effectively distribute bandwidth among consumers connected to the network.
You may experience throttling through varying loading speeds on different websites because your ISP might not be net-neutral and prioritize certain websites, such as YouTube and Facebook.
Once you reach your data limit, ISPs will automatically slow down your internet unless you pay for extra data. If you need more data, an unlimited internet plan will benefit you.
💡Did You Know? In 2021, people produced 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily.
Experts expect internet users to create roughly 181 zettabytes of data by 2025.
Unnatural Bandwidth While Gaming
Some online games can cause a heavy load on your network, leading to your ISP throttling your internet connection and getting a higher ping.
This network interference can cause your games to lag.
Can anyone tell me why my internet connection is horrible on my Xbox but all my other devices are fine? Same network, no traffic, same distance from the router. pic.twitter.com/ruF1Pah2WO— Rubber Toe (@RubberToeNM) January 9, 2023
Keep reading to learn how to check if your ISP is throttling your internet connection.
How to Know If Your ISP is Throttling?
While all throttling slows down your internet speeds, not all slow internet speeds are due to throttling. Here's how you can tell if your ISP is throttling your internet connection:
1. Conduct an Internet Speed Test
Conducting an internet connection is the easiest and fastest way to check if your ISP is throttling your internet speed.
Here's how you test your internet speed:
1. Open your browser, and go to Speed Test by Ookla.
2. Click on Go.
3. Your result should look like this:
If you're still unsure after conducting an internet test, you can test your internet using Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Keep reading to learn how you can use VPN to check ISP throttling.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network is one way to determine if your ISP is slowing your network.
Nord VPN is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a VPN. It's simple to set up and offers a lot of excellent security and privacy features.
To check if your ISP is throttling your connection, here's a foolproof way to check:
If the difference is significant, your ISP might slow down your data. However, if you have the same slow speed test result, the next thing that you can do is check your data package.
Continue reading to learn how checking your data allocation can help determine whether your internet speed is being throttled.
3. Check Your Data Allocation
Some ISPs have caps on downloading and uploading data per billing cycle. Exceeding your data limit can result in slower internet speed.
Check your contract or contact customer service if you're experiencing throttling. Here are known ISPs with data limits:
Monthly Data Limit
AT & T
DSL - 150Gb
Fixed Wireless Internet – 350Gb
Internet Basic1 768Kbps up to Internet 75 - 1Tb
Starter, Essential, and Ultimate plans - 250Gb
15Gb - 200Gb
200Gb - 6Tb
40Gb - 150Gb
Luckily, most of these ISPs offer a portal or a way to monitor your current data consumption.
Blocked port testing is another way to determine if you are being throttled.
4. Test for Blocked Ports
Port blocking is another way ISPs limit or block your connection entirely. You can check if your port is blocked by doing the following:
1. Go to: https://www.whatsmyip.org/port-scanner/
2. Click Port Scanners and Game Ports.
3. If a port says "Rejected," your ISP might throttle your connection.
5. Watch Out For Internet Speed Fluctuation
Another way to know if your ISP is throttling your internet speed is the fluctuation of loading speed when browsing different websites.
For example, YouTube loads quicker than other websites despite having 400 hours worth of videos uploaded to the platform every minute.
ISPs can throttle or completely block your internet connection on websites based on preference alone. This unfair practice is why some people campaign for net neutrality.
Net neutrality means an open and equitable internet for all devices, applications, platforms, and content.
The concept argues that all organizations (even ISPs) should not restrict access, slow down access speeds, or ban content for their benefit.
In the US, laws regarding net neutrality are constantly shifting. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) even reversed its stance on supporting net neutrality in 2015 by repealing it in 2017.
Ultimately it's for Congress to decide whether Net Neutrality regulations are needed and what they should look like if so, not the FCC, as they did under the Obama administration before being reversed by Ajit Pai.— Rohit Joy (@rohitjoycpa) August 4, 2023
Recently, two Democrat senators have been working on restoring net neutrality laws that bar ISPs and telecommunications companies from throttling or blocking websites for financial gains.
Since net neutrality is still in the works, is there a way you can stop your ISP from throttling your internet connection? Find out below.
Ways to Stop ISP Throttling
If the ISP decides to throttle your internet completely, there is nothing much you can do.
However, if your ISP is only throttling your connection to manage network traffic, here are methods to bypass the throttling:
Use a VPN
Installing a high-quality VPN like NordVPN can help you stop the throttling. Your internet traffic will be sent through an encrypted tunnel, keeping your ISP from seeing your traffic or destination server.
NordVPN reduces ISP throttling based on your online behavior. Its rapid speed ensures optimal performance.
With its servers in different countries, you can always find the best server that works.
Here's how to do it:
1. Sign up and purchase a NordVPN subscription. Although the VPN has a free version, you can enjoy the maximum benefits with a premium.
2. Download and install the Nord VPN client software.
3. Open the app. You can connect automatically to a nearby server with the Connect button or manually select a location in the map or sidebar.
4. You'll receive a notification after a few seconds if the connection is successful.
Once the VPN server is in use, your internet traffic is encrypted. Your ISP won't be able to throttle your connection.
Setup a Proxy
Another effective way to stop ISP throttling is to use reliable proxy server services.
Proxy servers act as replacement servers. It redirects traffic to a certain website by providing a proxy address, preventing your ISP from tracking your online activities or even knowing who you are.
Report your ISP to the Authorities
If your country has net neutrality laws, you can report your internet service provider for throttling internet speed on certain websites.
Unfortunately, there are only a few countries that have net neutrality laws. In 2023, The European Union (EU) passed newer and more comprehensive policies to guarantee an open Internet and ban Internet service providers from censoring legitimate information.
Aside for the EU, here are the following countries with net neutrality laws:
ISP throttling can be frustrating, but networks occasionally need to do so to provide fair service to their customers and protect them from harmful websites.
Some ISPs, however, use throttling for their gains due to the lack of net neutrality laws. Fortunately, there are ways to stop unfair ISP throttling, like using a VPN.
Is throttling illegal?
Internet throttling is legal if your internet service provider informs you and includes it in your contract. However, if your ISP fails to tell you about throttling or caps your data for an unlimited plan, then it becomes illegal.
Do all internet providers throttle?
Yes, all ISP throttle to some extent to regulate network usage and reduce congestion.
Can ISPs track internet activity?
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can track and see everything you do online. They can see and record the websites you visit, the videos you watch, where you live, and where you are. To hide your activities from the prying eyes of your ISP, use a VPN such as Nord VPN to encrypt the data you send and receive.
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