Has bandwidth throttling been getting on your nerves lately?
We know how annoying it can be – especially when ISPs decide to throttle your speeds pretty regularly.
Don’t worry, though – we’ll show you a very simple way to prevent bandwidth throttling in this article (in a hurry? Skip to getting the best VPNs for the US to bypass this issue). And we’ll answer some relevant questions too.
What Is Bandwidth Throttling Exactly?
The easiest way to describe it is your ISP intentionally slowing down your online speeds. They can easily do that because they have complete control over your connections. They go through their network, after all.
Plus, your ISP can see what sites you visit. Also, they can analyze your data packets to see what specific web apps you use, and how much data you use on them. If they’re not happy with the amount, they can selectively throttle your bandwidth for those services.
How to Bypass Bandwidth Throttling
The solution is very simple – just use a VPN. It’s an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic. When you use it to browse the web, your ISP can’t throttle your speeds anymore. Here’s why:
- The VPN stops your ISP from seeing what sites you connect to. Instead, they’ll just see the VPN server’s IP address.
- The VPN encrypts your traffic end-to-end, so your ISP can’t analyze your data packets and DNS queries anymore. Because of that, they can’t see what web domains and web pages you’re accessing.
Without that specific information, your ISP isn’t able to selectively lower your speeds for specific services (like Netflix, for example) anymore.
Just make sure you use a VPN with smooth speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Otherwise, you’re just trading one form of throttling for another. To find the best VPNs for the US, follow that link and use ProPrivacy’s comprehensive guide.
How to Spot Bandwidth Throttling
One telltale sign is your speed dropping at regular intervals throughout the day – especially in the evening or at night when there’s likely a lot of user traffic.
But, in our opinion, the easiest way to spot throttling is to use a VPN. If you get better speeds with it for specific activities (like watching Netflix or downloading torrents), your ISP is definitely throttling your speeds.
You could also test your download and upload speeds with Ookla’s Speedtest. Basically, run the test without a VPN, and then run it again with a VPN. If your speeds are better while using a VPN, your bandwidth is being throttled.
Another thing you could do is run a manual YouTube test if you suspect that your ISP is throttling your connection at the protocol level (so your bandwidth isn’t throttled, but your video streams are limited to a lower resolution). Here’s what you need to do:
- Open this 4K video.
- Select the 4K resolution option (2160p60).
- Play the video in full screen.
- Wait and see if it buffers more than once.
- If it does, lower the resolution and try again.
- Keep doing that until there’s no more buffering.
Now, compare the resolution that works with the video bitrates from Google to see what your video bandwidth is:
So if you don’t get buffering only if you use a 480p resolution, your video bandwidth is around 2.5 and 4 Mbps. If you know for a fact that’s much lower than what it should be (use Ookla’s Speedtest to find out), you’re dealing with bandwidth throttling.
Why Do ISPs Throttle User Bandwidth?
The main reason they do that is due to data caps. If you have a specific bandwidth limit you can’t go over each month, your ISP will throttle your speeds if you use too much data.
ISPs also throttle user bandwidth to prevent network congestion during peak traffic hours. That lets them improve their services, but it also means they don’t need to spend more money on expensive storage equipment or extra bandwidth.
Lastly, your ISP might also throttle your bandwidth if you’re doing something they don’t approve of – like downloading torrents.
Does Bandwidth Throttling Happen Only in the US?
Not exactly. It’s true that most news articles cover bandwidth throttling in the US. Also, many Reddit users from the US complain about it.
But this can also happen in pretty much any other country if there are no laws against it. Even the EU (which normally prohibits bandwidth throttling) allowed ISPs to throttle speeds at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can You Stop Bandwidth Throttling with a Proxy?
A proxy is pretty similar to a VPN server – it routes your online communications to different websites through a server, hiding your IP address in the process.
But here’s the difference – proxies don’t offer powerful encryption like VPNs do. Some of them offer some security, true, but it might not be enough to prevent bandwidth throttling.
Unfortunately, the only way to answer this question is to use a proxy, and see what your results are. In our case, they never worked out.
Can You Stop Bandwidth Throttling with Tor?
Tor should help you since it encrypts your traffic multiple times. So it’s even harder for ISPs to analyze your traffic.
But there’s a problem: the speeds. Tor is very, very slow. While it might stop bandwidth throttling, you won’t have a smooth online experience. Don’t forget – there are only around 6,000 servers and over two million users!
In our tests, we always got 1-3 Mbps speeds with Tor, which isn’t enough for decent streaming. With VPNs, our speeds hovered around 80-100+ Mbps.
Did You Ever Have to Deal with Bandwidth Throttling?
If yes, did using a VPN help you bypass it? Or did you use another method? If you did, please tell us about it in the comments.