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Data Throttling: What is it and How to Stop it?

This may sound unbelievable but internet service providers can deliberately limit your speed or disrupt your entire online experience with a practice called data throttling. If you are new to this concept or still need more information on it, then keep reading because we are going to walk you through the whole practice and also suggest certain ways through which you can stop the throttling of your internet. 

What is Data Throttling?

Data or internet throttling is when your internet service provider restricts your speed or bandwidth without informing you. It results in poor connectivity and slower speed than what your provider should be delivering. 

This is all done deliberately on the part of your ISP. The thing is, internet throttling is not bad in all circumstances. If multiple people are using the same network at the same time, throttling can be used to equally distribute the bandwidth.

There are multiple reasons behind it. Don’t worry, we’ll get into those reasons in detail. But just to give you an idea, let’s briefly touch upon them.

ISPs often place data caps on internet usage. Once you go over the said limit, the provider either slows down your activity or cuts you off entirely. However, some trusted internet service providers in the country are known for not putting any data caps on your plan. In this regard, Spectrum is quite popular and well known for its uncapped data allowance, consequently, making the online experience quite seamless and uninterrupted. 

ISPs’ Reasons for Data Throttling

As we already mentioned, ISPs throttle the internet because of several reasons. In some cases, you can even benefit from such throttling; however, there is also a possibility that ISPs do this to slow down heavy internet users to simply make money out of them. 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the common reasons why internet service providers throttle your data.

Network Congestion

If your online activity is straining the network of your ISP, there is a possibility that they may begin to throttle your internet connection or restrict your bandwidth. If your provider observes that you are downloading large files that can take up a huge amount of bandwidth, they begin to slow your connection down or cut you off, even if you have already paid for it. 

This throttling can be done to either regulate the traffic so all users can equally access the network, or to simply influence the online activities of the users. 

Data Caps

Now, let’s talk about data caps. You may not be aware of it but ISPs place limits on the amount of high-speed internet data you can access every month. Some providers state this in their contract, while a few keep it under the fold. On the other hand, there are some really great providers that do not impose any data caps at all. 

What happens is, once you hit the data cap, your speed starts to slow down to the point that it becomes extremely difficult to do even basic surfing or chatting over the internet. 

ISPs are bound to state any data caps in their contracts. So, if you want to check whether the reason behind your reduced speed is a throttled internet connection, then take a look at your plan. 

Prioritization of Services

Some ISPs get paid from certain services to primarily allot them greater bandwidth. In such a case, if you use a service that is in competition with them, then your internet speed may slow down significantly. 

For example, if your ISP has a contract with Netflix and you are using Amazon Prime Video, you are likely to experience a poor connection. 

In addition to this, ISPs also throttle the internet to discourage you from using certain websites or applications. It could be either to force you towards the services affiliated with your ISP or to make you pay more for a faster connection. 

This is why, if you want to access your favorite websites and notice a slower loading time, then either install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to bypass the restriction or go for a different, more reliable ISP.

Is Your ISP Throttling Your Internet? 

You can always check if your internet is being throttled or not. We will explain exactly how you can do that: 

  1. Run a Speed Test: Running a speed test can indicate whether your ISP is throttling your bandwidth or not. Lagging videos are usually a clear indication of a throttled internet connection. In this case, you can perform an internet speed test to check the status and performance of your internet in real-time.
  2. Connect to a VPN: Connecting to a VPN to access certain services, which you weren’t able to load before, can also be a sign of ISP throttling. 
  3. Compare Results: Comparing your speed after using a speed testing tool and checking it again with a VPN can show you an accurate picture of your connection. A slight speed drop is always normal when using a VPN. However, if you see a big difference, then that could be a red flag.

How to Stop Internet Throttling?

After making sure that your internet is definitely throttled, implement the following tips to avert the throttling and restore your connection back to its former state:

1. Monitor your Monthly Internet Usage

If you haven’t looked at your plan, then you definitely should. Your plan may specify the data limit per month in the fine print. Once you know it, you can monitor your activity and usage to steer clear of throttling.

One good practice is to avoid heavy data-consuming online activities. You can also install an app to help you keep track of your usage.

2. Use a VPN

If you think that your ISP may restrict you from accessing certain services or sites online, then simply use a VPN to avoid content-based throttling. This may result in slightly reduced speed, but still, you will be able to enjoy your favorite content, bias-free. 

Also, you can find ways to speed up a VPN but avoid using free VPN services as they can collect data without providing secure protocols. 

3. Switch to Another Internet Service Provider

A throttled internet connection can be a huge bummer. If your current provider is unrelenting, you have the option to switch to another ISP. For this, you can search for internet service providers near you and check which one provides their services without any data caps.

ISPs must always tell their customers about bandwidth limits and you have a right to ask about it before signing the contract. Choose an ISP that provides an amazing online experience along with unlimited data.

Is Internet Throttling Illegal?

One of the biggest questions you may find yourself asking is whether internet throttling is illegal or not. As a matter of fact, internet or data throttling is legal and can be benefitted from. This is simply because it helps regulate the bandwidth equally among the customers. 

NOTE: ISPs are obligated to inform their customers when they throttle connections.

Final Words

Nothing is more frustrating than endless buffering especially when you are streaming your favorite TV shows or playing an online game. The said buffering could be because your ISP throttles your internet connection regularly. 

The slowing down of internet activity can be done due to various reasons. However, as mentioned above, there are some ways through which you can determine whether your internet is being throttled or not. Consequently, you can take certain steps to stop the said throttling, as well. 

So, don’t waste time with a lagging connection and have an excellent online experience. Remember, your ISP is there to serve you, not the other way around.

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