Bandwidth Throttling is the process of intentionally slowing down the bandwidth provided by the ISP or internet service provider or a network administrator on a business network. It limits the speed with which you can either upload or download data on a private or public network such as the internet. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) intentionally slow down the speed of your internet connection to avoid internet traffic congestion on their networks.
Sometimes, bandwidth throttling happens when you access bandwidth consuming websites related to video streaming, such as Netflix, Vimeo, YouTube, etc., Torrent, file sharing applications, etc.
Also, it could happen after you cross a bandwidth cap that might be agreed between you and the ISP.
You can check if you are a victim of bandwidth throttling by conducting an internet speed test regularly over a month. To avoid bandwidth throttling, you can use a VPN, which hides your online activity from your ISP.
Why does bandwidth throttling happen?
Bandwidth throttling could be an irritating experience altogether for you since the internet speed goes to minimum speed. Even email checking sometimes becomes a nightmare. Let’s understand why does it happen?
ISP tries to get away with a lower setup
Your ISP would be dealing with several users with different bandwidth plans. Also, ISP might have limited resource when it comes to total available data bandwidth and networking equipment to manage such infrastructure.
They plan out things in which they never expect most their users to use the maximum allocated bandwidth. But when it happens, their network becomes congested. To avoid such scenarios, they do bandwidth throttling.
In short, your ISP may not be willing to spend more money either on higher data bandwidth plan or costly infrastructure to manage a higher network load.
The corporate network also does bandwidth throttling
Apart from the internet service providers, even the network administrators in a corporate network can implement bandwidth throttling to put a limit on the bandwidth an individual user can use.
Once a user reaches his bandwidth limit, the organization applies bandwidth throttling to limit the bandwidth on intranet or internet on the business network. Overall, this helps the admin to prevent load on their network.
In some instances, you would yourself want to control the bandwidth. This comes in handy when a particular application, which is not on high priority, is using a lot of your network bandwidth. Example of such applications are torrents, download manager, etc.
However, this is known as bandwidth controlling, and its motive is to ensure that one application or program do not use all your bandwidth.
When does bandwidth throttling happen?
There could two scenarios in which bandwidth throttling might happen. First, when you are about to consume the monthly allocated bandwidth limit. Here, ISP reduces the bandwidth to some agreed lower number.
Secondly, ISP intentionally throttles your bandwidth whenever you visit some specific websites such as Netflix or Torrent. These websites consume a lot of data bandwidth which might create contestation in the ISP network.
How to check if your bandwidth is being throttled?
It is difficult to catch bandwidth throttling if it happens occasionally. However, you should conduct an internet speed test regularly over a month. Most of the time, the ISPs throttle your bandwidth at the end of the billing cycle.
As soon as the next billing cycle starts, your speed would be back to normal. It would be a good idea to find out the evidence of reduced bandwidth and check with your ISP the reason behind.
One of the popular speed test websites is the Speedtest by Okla. It is almost accurate and gives you a precise indication of your current internet speed.
To be more thorough, you can sign up for a Speedtest account. This will allow you to record your speed test results and compare it over a period.
Another useful software is Neubot. This software might look complicated but once you get a hang of everything, the tool will serve its purpose beautifully. Download this free software and install locally on your device.
It automatically runs in the background and keeps performing the internet speed tests. In case your bandwidth goes down, it will give you an alert.
Netflix also provides a specific website to check if your ISP is intentionally throttling your bandwidth on Netflix. You can compare the results of this test with the speed of your normal data plan. If there is a huge gap then it means that bandwidth throttling is happening.
How to avoid Bandwidth Throttling?
It encrypts the internet traffic and routes it through a secured and encrypted tunnel. This will give no clue to your ISP about the activities that you might perform online.
If bandwidth throttling is taking place only when you access torrent websites via a local torrent client application. Instead, you can also use web-based torrent clients such as ZbigZ, Seedr, etc. These sites enable you to download the torrent from an ordinary web browser connection. So, to the ISP it will appear as if it is just a regular browser session.
In case if IT administrators throttle your bandwidth, then it is near impossible to avoid it. This is because the IT administrator can prevent you from using even a VPN, which requires making some changes to your network.
Over to you
If you are subjected to occasional bandwidth throttling by your ISP and you do not want to change your service provider then the best option would be to use a VPN service. This will hide your internet traffic from your ISP and make it clueless about your online activity.
Moreover, if throttling takes place at endpoints, you have no control whatsoever. So, to prevent yourself from succumbing to such problems, it is necessary to evaluate every plan before choosing your ISP carefully.