How To Tell If You’Re Being Throttled
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Am I Being Throttled? This Could Be Why Your Home Internet …
TL;DRThe best way to know if your internet connection is being throttled is to run 2 speed tests: a regular speed test, and then another test using a VPN. If your connection is much faster when the VPN is on, it’s likely that you are being throttled. With so many of us working from home offices these days, a snail-paced internet isn’t fun. Today, we’ll have a look over what data throttling is, why it happens, and how to check if you are being throttled by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Table of Contents What is data throttling? Why do ISPs throttle data? Am I being throttled by my ISP? How to fix data throttling with a VPN I’m not being throttled – why is my internet so slow? Is data throttling legal? What is data throttling? Whilst it’s nice to think of the internet as unlimited, bandwidth is a finite resource. Most ISPs have a policy of “throttling” heavy internet users if they exceed their allotted amount of data. Throttling means they purposely slow down a user’s data transmission. You’ll feel it as a noticeably slower internet connection. Y’know – when Slack messages won’t send, and file sharing makes you want to tear your hair out. Don’t get us started on Zoom calls… It can be frustrating to see your internet at snail speeds with no explanation. Why do ISPs Throttle Data? Your ISP might choose to throttle your bandwidth for a few reasons: 1. High demand due to more people working from home Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISPs worldwide have been struggling to cope with much higher-than-usual bandwidth demands. They were configured to expect staggered activity times split between home use and office use. COVID-19 has forced much of the global workforce to work from home. The result? A lot more data throttling. By restricting you to certain speeds, ISPs can free up bandwidth for other users sharing the same signal tower. 2. It’s a “high traffic” time Similarly, you’re more likely to be throttled during peak periods. It’s pretty common for internet speeds to drop during times of day when more people are using the internet – for example in the evenings after work hours. 3. You’ve exceeded your data cap As we mentioned, most people do have data limits on their internet. If you exceed your allocated limit, your ISP may need to throttle your connection speed in order to provide high speeds to other customers. 4. Throttling due to the type of content being accessed Out of all the reasons you might be throttled, this is the worst! Sometimes, ISPs may throttle specific websites or services like Netflix or Hulu. This could be because these services take up a lot of bandwidth. But, it can also be because they want these services to pay extra coin for faster load times. If it sounds dodgy, that’s because it is – paid prioritisation was illegal up until 2018 before net neutrality was repealed. Am I being throttled by my ISP? Since some ISPs throttle you based on what content you are accessing, the best way to know if you’re being throttled is to use a VPN. A VPN will help mask your IP address and online activities and thus force your ISP to treat all your content equally. By running a speed test with your VPN on, you’ll then be able to measure your true internet speeds. To test if you’re being throttled, just carry out these 4 steps. Run an internet speed test (using something like). Download and install a good VPN. Run a second speed test with the VPN active. Compare the results to see the difference. If you notice that your internet speed is significantly faster when the VPN is on, there’s a good chance that you are being throttled. How to fix data throttling with a VPN As well as revealing if you are being throttled, a good VPN can also help you to bypass data throttling. To illustrate its effectiveness, I ran a few different VPN brands (including some of our favourites) during the period when I noted my bandwidth being throttled. Here are the results: First, as a baseline gauge, my ISP-advertised bandwidth is 500Mbps both up and down. Here’s how speeds may look if I was connected to a server in France, and my connection was being throttled. Now, let’s have a look at how these speeds change when I activate various VPNs. Here are the results: As you can see, using a VPN clearly helped me skip over the bandwidth restrictions. It worked with each of these major VPN service providers which I tested at the time. While not exactly the same speeds as I normally get, it is still much improved over the 2. 5 Mbps observed without a VPN active. The reason for this is ISPs normally throttle bandwidth selectively. Think of bandwidth as a highway where there are various lanes for traffic. On the Internet highway, there are generally two lanes – fast and slow. Based on their sorting methods, ISPs generally can put your traffic into either of these lanes. VPNs work by creating communications tunnels from your device directly to their servers. Any data you send along these tunnels is also highly encrypted. Because of these things, ISPs won’t know what kind of data you are sending and receiving. Bear in mind though that it won’t always work this way. As you can see, if an ISP can’t tell what kind of data it is working with, sorting normally puts you in the fast lane. However, there are caveats when even a VPN won’t work. If you’re being throttled because you exceeded your data cap, a VPN isn’t going to change this. Other Ways to Fix data throttling If a VPN doesn’t improve your speeds, try doing the following: Monitor your data usage more carefully If your plan comes with a cap, try to monitor how much data you’re using. If you’re reaching your data cap before the end of the month, go easy on data-heavy activities like torrenting. If you find yourself repeatedly going over your plan, you should switch to a plan with more data allowance. Change your internet service provider Not all ISPs come equal. Some are more prone to throttle users. If you find yourself throttled repeatedly, shop around for another ISP that offers higher data caps. I’m not being throttled – why is my internet so slow? Maybe the tests have shown you’re not being throttled. But your internet is still slow – now what? Here are some tips to try and speed up your connection: Check for Throttling Checklist Turn your router on and off again. Move your router to a more open location in the house. Disconnect any other devices that might be sucking up bandwidth. Connect using an ethernet cable instead of WiFi. Call your ISP to see if the service is down. Check your modem and router aren’t too old for your current internet plan. That’s just the start – we’ve written an in-depth article here with 16 ways to speed up your internet connection. If after all that you’re still experiencing slow internet, there’s a good chance you’re being throttled. Is data throttling Legal? Unfortunately, internet throttling IS legal in most cases. In the past, US courts ruled that companies couldn’t use ‘internet fast lanes’ to prioritise certain streams of data. But since the repeal of net neutrality in 2018, there are no longer many legal protections against selective throttling. These days, ISPs are generally supposed to inform customers when they throttle connections due to exceeding their data cap. In regards to prioritizing content and charging for priority connections – there aren’t many rules. Thankfully, public outrage has generally helped to keep many ISPs from going overboard. Power to the peeps! Beat the Throttle! If you’ve ever wondered ‘am I being throttled? ’, there’s a good chance of the answer being ‘yes’ since COVID-19 began. With luck, ISPs will eventually normalize their operations. But, it’s realistic to assume that data throttling may continue for a while longer. I highly recommend that you try using a VPN to work around bandwidth restrictions. That way, you’ll be able to work with peace of mind from anywhere you choose. About The Author Daren Low is the founder of With over a decade’s experience in website development and internet marketing, Daren is a top authority on anything to do with building and managing an online business. Pick his brain today by connecting via Linkedin and Twitter.
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‘Unlimited’ Cellular Data Throttling Investigation – ForThePeople.com
‘Unlimited’ Cellular Data Throttling Investigation
It has been alleged that a number of cell phone providers misled their customers by advertising plans for “unlimited” Internet data that was later slowed down – often to inoperable speeds. Customers are complaining that their cell phone providers are slowing down their Internet speeds without notice after using a certain amount of data in a billing cycle, rendering the devices useless for days or weeks at a time before their next billing cycle begins. At Morgan & Morgan, our lawyers investigated these claims, as we believe these customers may be able to take legal action against their providers.
Is Data Throttling Illegal?
Cell phone providers can legally throttle customers’ Internet speeds to
reduce congestion during peak hours or in densely populated cities;
however, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has
said that throttling may become illegal if companies limit their
customers’ Internet speeds in a “deceptive or unfair” fashion, including
by calling a plan “unlimited” and later throttling – or limiting –
AT&T Facing Lawsuit for Throttling Users’ “Unlimited” Data
In October 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit
against AT&T after nearly 200, 000 customers complained that the
company throttled their “unlimited” data plans after they used a certain
amount of gigabytes (GB) in a billing cycle.
The lawsuit alleges that:
Despite advertising certain data plans as “unlimited, ” AT&T failed
to adequately disclose that it would limit or slow down customers’
AT&T failed to specify when customers’ “unlimited” data would be
After a certain amount of data (ranging between 3 and 5 GB) was used,
AT&T would slow down Internet speeds
Most “unlimited” data customers were not notified by text message or
email when they were approaching the data usage threshold that would
result in throttling
“Unlimited” data customers had their Internet speeds reduced between
80 and 95 percent during throttling, which often rendered their
devices inoperable for days or weeks until their next billing cycles
Customers who canceled their wireless plans with AT&T after having
their “unlimited” data throttled were forced to pay hundreds of
dollars in early contract termination fees
According to the lawsuit, AT&T throttled its customers’ data more
than 25 million times since October 2011, affecting more than 3. 5
million customers. The lawsuit is seeking to stop AT&T from
advertising its data plans as “unlimited” if users will be subject to
reduced Internet speeds after using a certain amount of GB of data per
billing period. Furthermore, the FTC is seeking compensation on behalf
of customers whose “unlimited” plans were throttled and who were forced
to pay contract termination fees when canceling their accounts with
Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint Throttle “Unlimited” Data, Customers Complain
Consumers are complaining that numerous cell phone providers are
misleading their customers by advertising “unlimited” data that is
subject to throttling. While some customers complain that the throttling
they’ve experienced prevents them from surfing the web and checking
email, others claim that the slow Internet speeds prevent them from
using critical services such as GPS. Furthermore, certain “unlimited”
data customers who use their data while commuting to work complain that
they spend additional money for services such as Netflix and Hulu, but
are prevented from using these features on their cell phones when their
data is throttled.
The following wireless providers have been accused of data throttling:
How to Speed Up Torrents & Block Throttling – Step by Step Guide
Have you ever experienced a sudden drop in your internet speed right when you’re about to start catching up on Netflix? Or maybe, it’s taking a strangely long time to download your favorite game?
You might be experiencing one of the most annoying tricks internet service providers (ISPs) use against their customers: bandwidth throttling.
Bandwidth throttling stops you from using too much of the ISPs bandwidth via streaming, downloading, and peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing. We call it a trick because it’s done secretly, without your knowledge or permission, as a cost-saving exercise for the ISP.
As we’ll explain further below, a VPN is the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to bypass throttling. By encrypting your data, a VPN hides your online activity from your ISP, so they can’t target you for streaming, downloading, or torrenting.
It only takes a few minutes to install one, and the benefits go far beyond just bypassing throttling.
Quick Guide: Bypass Throttling with a VPN
Choose a VPN with a large number of optimized servers. We recommend ExpressVPN.
Install the VPN and connect to a server close to your location. This will guarantee a fast connection.
Go online and enjoy uninterrupted, stable speeds no matter what you’re doing.
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What is Bandwidth Throttling?
Put simply: The deliberate slowing down of your internet connection, based on your online activity.
Your internet service provider (ISP) hosts all the data you send and receive online. This allows them to track everything you do on their network. They can also control your available data and internet connection.
An ISP automatically analyzes your data to determine what you are browsing; the websites and apps you’re using; and what you’re downloading, uploading, and sharing.
Based on all this information, an ISP will flag any activity they deem problematic and take action.
The most common action that most internet users experience – often without knowing – is a slower internet connection. If you’re flagged for downloading large data files, P2P sharing, or HD streaming (including Netflix), your ISP may reduce the bandwidth available to you.
Why Do ISPs Throttle Your Bandwidth?
There are two main reasons ISPs throttling users’ bandwidth: cost cutting and legal issues.
1. Cutting Costs
ISPs have a fixed bandwidth and data processing capacity that they split between all their customers. This means there is only a certain amount of bandwidth available to a large pool of people. If some customers are using a lot of that bandwidth, it creates congestion in the network and slows other users’ connections. It also increases costs for the ISP, as they must process extra data.
ISPs have two options to resolve this issue: improve their infrastructure or restrict the bandwidth available to each user. They almost always prefer the second option, and use throttling to achieve it. This way, they don’t have to pay to upgrade their infrastructure to meet the increased data demand.
Even if you’re paying for unlimited internet, if you’re streaming and downloading content, your ISP might still be secretly restricting your connection.
2. Legal Issues
Everybody knows the legal dangers of torrenting and P2P sharing. While many people use both legally, plenty of internet users continue to download and share copyright protected material illegally.
As a result, legal groups around the world have put pressure on ISPs to track and block all torrenting activities. It doesn’t matter if you don’t download copyrighted material. By torrenting anything, you will immediately be flagged by your ISP.
Your internet connection will be slowed down, to restrict you from downloading large data files – regardless of their copyright status. You may also lose your internet contract with your ISP.
This protects the ISP legally, while putting you in jeopardy and disrupting your ability to use the internet. If you want to continue streaming and downloading legal material with ease, you need to bypass the throttling.
Using a VPN to Bypass Throttling
The most effective way to bypass throttling is to hide your online activity from your ISP. If they can’t track your data and browsing activity, they won’t be able to restrict it.
The good news is it’s actually incredibly easy to do. All you need is a great VPN and a few minutes to install it.
A VPN encrypts your data and passes it through a protective ‘tunnel’ within your ISPs network. You can also use the VPN to connect to a server in a different location, outside of your local area, and even your country. These two features, along with many other security tools, block your ISP from monitoring and accessing your data.
With the ISP unable to track the data you send and receive on their network, you can’t be flagged for streaming, downloading, torrenting, or any other activity that drains their bandwidth.
Many of the best VPNs also offer specialized servers dedicated to activities that require large amounts of data and extra privacy. For example, ExpressVPN has servers all over the world dedicated to streaming, P2P sharing, and much more.
The Best VPN to Bypass Throttling: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is the overall highest-rated VPN amongst our readers. With industry-leading, military-grade privacy tools and over 3, 000 speed-optimized servers across the globe, it’s perfect for hiding your online activity from your ISP.
By connecting to a ExpressVPN server, you enjoy the security of AES-256 encryption, a strict no-logs policy, automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and much more. All of these features combine to ensure your ISP will never be able to track what apps and websites you’re using, or online games you’re playing.
As a result, not only will your connection be more stable, it might even be faster than usual. You can try ExpressVPN out, risk-free, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Install it on your devices for a month and see the difference it makes.
Bypass ISP Throttling on iPhone or Android
A VPN is the best option to overcome bandwidth throttling on smartphones. It disables any restriction your ISP puts on your internet speed and stabilizes your network connection.
Follow these simple steps:
Choose a VPN with a great smartphone app. We recommend ExpressVPN, which you can sync up to your laptop or computer for faster installation.
Download and install the application on your iPhone or Android device.
Connect to the appropriate VPN server.
Enjoy fast, stable browsing on any app or website.
ISP throttling is one of the most frustrating issues for internet users today. You could be a victim and never even know, because your ISP will do it without any warning. They’ll also probably never admit to it – after all, you’re paying for a fast internet connection. By deliberately slowing yours down, ISPs are acting dishonestly and maybe even illegally.
With all this secrecy, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from throttling is to bypass it altogether. By using a VPN to bypass throttling, you can save yourself from hours of frustrating and unpredictably slow internet in a few quick, easy steps.
You’ll also enjoy the benefits of safer, more private internet. We suggest trying out ExpressVPN to see the difference it makes. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee to new subscribers, so you can decide for yourself, risk-free.
Bypassing ISP throttles is just one of the many benefits of using a VPN. Learn all about them in our complete beginners’ guide.
If you can’t decide which VPN is best for you, check our rankings for the very best.
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Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!
The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.
VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we’ve tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it’s currently offering 49% off.
Frequently Asked Questions about how to tell if you’re being throttled
Is throttling illegal?
Cell phone providers can legally throttle customers’ Internet speeds to reduce congestion during peak hours or in densely populated cities; however, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has said that throttling may become illegal if companies limit their customers’ Internet speeds in a “deceptive or unfair” fashion, …
How do I bypass throttling?
Bypass ISP Throttling on iPhone or AndroidChoose a VPN with a great smartphone app. … Download and install the application on your iPhone or Android device.Connect to the appropriate VPN server.Enjoy fast, stable browsing on any app or website.Sep 23, 2021