Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best ways to prevent your Internet connection from being throttled. Even so, this only works in some circumstances. The reason for this is that throttling happens for various reasons.
Line Speed Throttling Explained
When you sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) they control your point of access to the world wide web. Because of this, they can do many things to your connection that may or may not be in your favour.
One example of the latter is line speed throttling, otherwise known as Internet speed throttling. One of the areas that your ISP is responsible for is the speed of your connection. Although you may be sold a package based on specific speeds – those are the maximums you will get for that deal.
Line speed throttling takes place when your ISP intentionally lowers the maximum allowable rates of data transmission for your connection.
Bypassing Speed Throttling
Much information isn’t typically passed on to us when we sign up for an Internet plan. We assume we’re sold line speeds of X/Mbps and should get that whenever we want. When our speeds get throttled, it may come as a shock.
Part of the reason why is that ISPs are generally quite aggressive in their speed throttling. What used to run at 100Mbps may suddenly get toned down to a fraction of that. The result is a bunch of very unhappy customers who don’t really have many options, since we didn’t read the fine print.
Fear not though – there is the possibility of taking things into your own hands. Two ways of overcoming speed throttling are by using a proxy server, or a VPN connection.
Using Proxy Servers
Proxy servers are typically the first solution many users turn to since there are a number of free ones. They work in a similar fashion to VPNs and route your connection through their servers, then on to the intended destination.
The problem with proxy servers is that in most cases, they are unreliable at best. In worse cases, they may actually be dangerous to use. Some may contain Malware, while others could steal information, or cause other harm.
Using VPN Connections
Because of the many drawbacks associated with proxy servers, VPNs are generally the ideal way of bypassing speed throttling. In a similar fashion, your data is routed through the private servers belonging to the VPN service provider. These are often much more secure.
At the same time, VPNs add the element of encryption to your data, preventing anyone who’s monitoring the connection from telling what type of traffic is being transmitted. Of course, all of this is taking into consideration that you’ve chosen a reputable VPN service provider to work with.
There are free VPN services available, but in some cases, those can be as dangerous to use as the proxies discussed earlier.
Important note: Neither of these methods will work the throttling is caused by you exhausting your bandwidth limits. In that situation, the speed restrictions will be applied directly to your account and there’s no way around it.
Why ISPs Throttle Internet Speeds
Part of overcoming bandwidth throttling is understanding why ISPs want to do this. Depending on the reason, you may or may not be able to bypass their efforts. Two main reasons for throttling are:
Overselling of Subscriptions: If an ISP has sold packages to too many subscribers, it may not have the capability to handle simultaneous traffic volume. Then, it will have to throttle line speeds so as much of its active subscriber base as possible can use their connections.
Reaching Fixed Bandwidth Capacity: Some Internet packages are sold with bandwidth limitations. For example, AT&T has a one terabyte data cap on its fixed line Internet packages. In most cases, once you reach those limits, your line speed will get throttled.
How Speeds are Throttled
Since our Internet connections flow through their servers, ISPs typically know everything we do. Because of this, they are able to sort the traffic into different streams – separating high from low priority traffic.
What Data Goes Where?
Knowing why speeds are throttled makes this simple. Since the objective is to reduce the load each individual user is causing, lighter activities go into the fast, or higher priority, lane. This includes things like standard web browsing or plain emails.
Data-heavy traffic such as the downloading of large files or media streaming activities will generally go into the slow, or lower priority’ lane. This helps to free up more bandwidth quickly and works well if undertaken for limited periods.
ISPs are typically bound to certain standards of service by regulation. This of course, will differ from country to country. Bandwidth throttling however, does not usually fall under this umbrella of protection since it’s only done occasionally.
As such, you never know when your line speed will suddenly get cut. When it does, there isn’t really anyone you can complain to most of the time. Take matters into your own hands and ensure you use a VPN regularly.
Not just to ensure you get the speeds you pay for, but also to help boost your data security and privacy.
VPN for Privacy Protection
If you care a lot about your privacy online, VPN is a good idea. Aside from masking your identity and keeping you safer online, VPNs also help you access geo-blocked content.
- Support Onion over VPN
- Great for Torrenting
- Fastest connections with NordLynx
- Panama-based, no data retention
- Get NordVPN at $3.99/month
- Best-in-class encryption
- Private DNS on every server
- Network lock kill switch & Split tunneling
- BVI-based; strict no log policy
- Get ExpressVPN at $6.67/month
Also, see our recommended VPN providers for different use cases here.