We all complain about how slow internet connections can get. Infact, we generally associate slowness with the rate of our data connections. Some internet service providers (ISPs) try to do their best, while others have us on their customer care lines all day demanding an explanation. Before you continue, learn about internet speeds here.
Then I came across the whole concept of bandwidth throttling. This is basically the intentional slowing down of the internet bandwidth by internet providers to try to maintain their traffic load or to decongest a network. Sounds like that makes sense right, until they use it for no reason but to avoid you having access, while they still make profit. Is that a crime? It should be.
This bandwidth throttling is mostly the reason behind the slow internet access that occurs with some ‘unlimited’ data plans. You may sign up for a bundle or plan that offers unlimited connectivity but the ISP or mobile operator may limit your bandwidth after you have consumed a certain amount of data, meaning your ‘unlimited’ bundle offer is actually capped. Hence the complaints from some users that their devices stop connecting to 3G or 4G/LTE networks, and changes to EDGE.
The legal use of bandwidth throttling is to reduce traffic congestion on a network to avoid server crashes, but some ISPs use it to manipulate their service to customers, to reduce their costs on maintaining the acceptable bandwidth and instead still make money off poor services. They may then advertise their ‘premium’ services, that cost you more money, that you can sign up for as a better flawless option. Smart profit making concept, innit?
How can you tell if ISP is throttling you?
If you have a monthly data plan, it’s much easier to determine that. The simplest method so far is to go www.speedtest.net for the Ookla Speed Test and view the changes in bandwidth (upload and download speeds) over the month. If they become slower towards the end of the month, your ISP is most likely throttling it because you may have reached a capped data amount, even if you have an ‘unlimited’ data plan. You can create an account on the Ookla website to get more insights and logs on how your ISPs speeds are changing over a period of time.
Not all slow internet speeds are caused by throttling though. There may be a genuine obstacle to the slow speeds. Maybe your device hasn’t been set properly or has faults, materials of buildings can also interfere with waves, or the area you’re in has limited access dude to the absence of a mobile operator’s cell towers.
Image Credit: Rusted Reality, OOKLA