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Throttled Connectivity: Is Your ISP Conspiring Against You Online? Given that the internet service provider marketplace is a competitive one, why would companies jeopardize their customer relationships by actively slowing connections down?

By Dmytro Spilka

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We've become accustomed to our internet being available and efficient at all times. Whether we're hard at work, ready to watch our favorite series, or about to play a video game, we expect our internet to be up to the challenge. So why can this sometimes feel like a challenge for your internet service provider (ISP)?

In some cases, your connection may be getting throttled by your ISP, which will slow down your connections and can make your online activity slower, whether you're streaming, gaming, downloading, or simply working. It's happening here in Europe and all over the world.

Throttling works by capping your bandwidth, and your provider can undertake the measure for many reasons, although one of the more common approaches is to conserve the ISP's network traffic for all users.

What's worse is that bandwidth throttling is entirely legal if your ISP has warned that this could occur within your contract with them, but it's certainly worth checking the fine print of your agreement if you suspect that throttling is taking place.

Why are ISPs throttling bandwidth?

Given that the internet service provider marketplace is a competitive one, why would companies jeopardize their customer relationships by actively slowing connections down?

There are many reasons why bandwidth throttling could take place. At peak times, ISPs may want to ensure that the same level of service is distributed evenly across their customer base. This means that there will be efforts to serve high volumes of users by limiting connections evenly.

Of course, this can be a little difficult for somebody who may need faster internet access to stream multimedia content as opposed to simply using their connection to browse social media and message friends on WhatsApp.

In some cases, an ISP's Fair Usage Policy can state that if a user breaks their data cap limit over a month, they could incur throttling.

How to discover if you're being throttled.

If you suspect that your internet connection is being throttled by your ISP, one effective way of testing your suspicions is by taking the following steps:

1. Take an internet speed test.

By running an online speed test, which is widely available from trustworthy websites like SpeedTest.net or Google, you can check whether your internet speeds are consistent with those promised by your internet service provider.

Once you have the results of your test, record your download and upload speeds for future reference.

2. Connect to a trusted virtual private network (VPN).

For your next step, connect to a virtual private network. VPNs work by encrypting your internet connection and rerouting it via a secure server in a completely different connection. This means that your ISP will be unable to monitor your activities and reduce your internet speeds.

3. Re-run your online speed test.

Now it's time to re-run your online speed test using your VPN connection. If your results show that your speeds have improved, your service provider is likely throttling your connectivity.

How to overcome throttling.

Although throttling can feel like an unfair way for your ISP to slow your internet speeds down, particularly in the name of providing an equal service for users who may have fewer needs for faster connectivity, there are plenty of approaches you can take to avoid throttling.

Some key measures that can be taken include:

Use a reputable VPN.

One of the most effective ways of beating throttling from your ISP is to download and activate a virtual private network.

VPNs offer end-to-end encryption for your internet connection to pave the way for the sending and receiving of data on public networks. This means that all of your online activity will be encrypted and hidden from your ISP, meaning that there's no way of them knowing that you're exceeding your usage limits.

Crucially, the use of a VPN is ideal for users who like to get the most out of their connection. Here, you will have the ability to play video games or stream television, movies, and sports without the risk of lag, buffering, or your connection breaking down.

VPNs have become synonymous with online streaming in recent years due to the level of privacy and the ability of virtual private networks to overcome geo-fencing to provide content on an international scale.

For the millions of users of internet protocol television (IPTV), VPNs can offer international access to content without the threat of throttling entering the fray.

Fire Stick Tricks offers a comprehensive overview of safely using a quality virtual private network for streaming, and the platform's focus on IPTV VPN services will help you to watch live sporting events or television shows with a faster connection, should your ISP be guilty of throttling your speeds.

Wait for off-peak times to use the internet.

If you use the internet to download large files or consume lots of data either streaming or gaming, one easy way to get the most out of your connection is to go online during off-peak hours.

By looking to download large files between 11pm and 7am, when internet usage is generally lower, you may find that your speeds are far quicker than at peak times between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

To find the sweet spot to go online, monitor your download speeds when you can. You may find that the pace of your connection improves at certain points in the day, and this can help to save plenty of time and stress when it comes to your usage.

Try finding a new ISP.

Another positive action you can take is to look into using a new internet service provider. While many of us will be tied to contracts, you may find that an alternative provider isn't as strict on throttling our internet usage.

Try looking to review sites to see how other users are rating the reliability, cost, and speed of alternative providers. In addition to this, look at your prospective new ISP's terms of service. Legally, they have to specify whether they could throttle your connection, and this could be seen as an immediate red flag for frequent internet users.

By conducting your due diligence, you can make the switch to a better provider with faster speeds without the danger of getting throttled.

Monitor your monthly data usage.

You may be getting throttled because of a significant download that's taken place over the past month. If your service plan allows a preset volume of data per month, it may be worth monitoring your usage monthly.

Try to avoid more heavy data-consuming activities like video streaming or frequent gaming if your monthly data usage is capped.

Use a proxy server.

Proxy servers work in a similar way to VPNs in that they offer a degree of anonymity that hides your identity from your ISP. However, proxy servers hide your IP address only rather than encrypting your data, which means it's a quick fix that offers less privacy than VPNs.

Create an online experience that works for you.

If you suspect that your internet service provider is throttling your connectivity, many approaches can be taken to continue enjoying your online activity without facing slower speeds.

While there's no right or wrong solution to solving your throttling dilemma, the best approach to take will be the one that helps you to comfortably enjoy your online experience without issue.

Whether you're keen to stream your favorite shows or work from home without disruption, you should never suffer slower internet speeds because of your ISP. By taking action and using a solution that works for you, it's possible to continue getting the best out of the internet no matter your provider.

Dmytro Spilka

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

CEO and Founder of Solvid

Dmytro is a CEO of Solvid, a creative content creation agency based in London. He's also the founder of Pridicto, a web analytics startup. His work has been featured in various publications, including The Next Web, Entrepreneur.com, Huff Post, TechRadar, B2C and Business.com.
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