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What does Internet Throttling mean - is your ISP Lowering your speeds

What Is Internet Throttling Mean – Is Your ISP Lowering Your Speeds

Endless buffering can be so frustrating, especially when you want to watch your favorite show or a long-awaited TV show. When this happens, it could be that your service provider is throttling your internet without you being aware of it.

Internet throttling is an intentional act by your service provider to reduce the speed of your internet connectivity. This is often done to moderate against traffic congestion because most of the ISP are not prepared for this traffic, leaving them with no option but to throttle the internet. This is important so the speed can be distributed equitably. Though that should not be the case. But how will you know when this done on your internet and what can you do to stop it? Read on to find out.

What Is Throttling

Throttling is when your ISP limits your internet bandwidth, especially when you’ve exceeded your allocated data cap for the month. Apart from this, it can also occur when your service provider decides to reduce specific online destinations. This is strictly the business of all ISP; none is exempted. The majority of internet plans already come with it in other to restrict the monthly data usage. When this limit is reached by the consumer, rather than cutting the customer’s connection, it will be reduced to give preference to others still within their allotted data limit.

This routine practice with all ISP can be very annoying, mostly if you use your internet for file download, video streaming, or online gaming. Once they commence throttling, you’ll begin to experience sudden buffering at the point of streaming Netflix or YouTube. Furthermore, you’ll also notice lags or delays in file transfer and gaming.

Reasons Why ISP’s Throttle Internet 

Internet Service Providers have a ton of excuses for throttling your internet. Below are the top four reasons:

  • Data caps
  • Network congestion
  • Paid prioritization
  • Forbidden activity

Data caps

Whenever you tend to notice sluggish internet, especially as the month approaches its last days, there is every tendency you’ve exceeded your data cap for the month. In fact, most ISPs in a billing cycle limit the amount of high-speed data you can use. Hence, once you exceed it, throttling will automatically be activated. In case you do not know, every online activity you carry out, from Netflix streaming to loading web pages, counts towards your allocated data cap for the month. To make this more comfortable for you, ISP’s often offer a portal every customer can use to track their data usage. This will ensure you do not go overboard from day one. Data cap is embedded in your contract.

Network congestion

Whenever internet service providers notice heavy internet use from a particular area, they immediately throttle the internet. This way, every customer within that area can have equal access to the internet. This often happens during the peak period (7:00 pm-11:00 pm) when most customers will be online to perform one activity or another.

Paid prioritization

Sometimes, ISP might decide to throttle individual applications such as Hulu, Netflix, etc. This is to discourage customers from using them so their attention will be diverted to their own recommended streaming applications. Also, they might decide to throttle some specific website so they can pay for more load times.

Yes, all these might be fishy, but this is the game they play. Furthermore, there might be instances where a specific type of data consumes much bandwidth, which indirectly puts pressure on the network. At this point, ISP’s will have no option but to throttle it. All these scenarios benefit ISPs but negatively affect the customer.

How To Discover That Your Internet Connection is being Throttled

Here are two common tests you can carry out for this purpose:

Internet Health Test – There are free web-based applications that you can use to gauge your network performance. The purpose of this is to find out any bottlenecks. From here, you can get to evaluate the result when a particular platform is being opened. If you notice any changes, then it’s obvious your ISP has implemented throttling for that specific service.

YouTube Manual Test – This is an exercise that involves selecting and playing a 4K video to ascertain the number of times it buffers. If it does more than once, you need to step the resolution down and recheck the buffer status. You might need to do this repeatedly until you arrive at quality without buffering. After this, you’ll now get to know your sufficient video quality.

How To Stop Internet Throttling

  • If your connection is getting bogged down due to throttling, you can bypass it using a VPN. But you need the right VPN.
  • Decrease your monthly usage.
  • Add more high-speed data when you exceed your allocated data.
  • Upgrade to an unlimited data plan
  • Choose providers without data caps.
  • Pay more attention to your internet download, upload, and ping speeds—particularly if you notice that your bandwidth is throttled often.

In Conclusion

Apart from internet throttling by various service providers, there might be other reasons why you’re experiencing slow internet. You might need to check your home network when you must have ruled out throttling, which is an external factor. Also, it might just be your inability to have enough bandwidth for your internet activities. So it’s essential to consider all these factors.


Is throttling (Internet) illegal?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, throttling by various internet service providers might become illegal when done deceptively. But aside from this, ISP can legally throttle internet speed due to network traffic, especially during peak hours.

What is the possible way to check if your Internet is being throttled?

The easiest way is to run a speed test, especially using a VPN. If your connection is considerably faster with the VPN, there is every tendency that your ISP is probably throttling your service.

What is the reason why my internet being throttled?

Excess data usage within a data cap is one of the common reasons your data is. In almost all cases, ISPs are obliged to notify consumers when they’re about to throttle connections.