What Is Internet Throttling And How Can You Test It?

Imagine this scenario: You settle down to be productive, but the internet refuses to load your web pages. It is not only an annoying experience but can also be a major hindrance for those working remotely. Suppose you have ruled out other potential causes for a sluggish internet connection, such as issues with your router. In that case, the problem may stem from internet throttling by your internet service provider (ISP).

Indicators of internet throttling may become apparent if you observe increased buffering while streaming content or experience delays while downloading files. It could result from your ISP deliberately limiting your bandwidth to manage the company’s network traffic. However, when you have paid for a specific level of internet speed, the possibility of internet throttling can be disheartening. working remotely

Internet throttling, also referred to as data or bandwidth throttling, is considered legal as long as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has indicated the possibility of limiting your internet speed in the terms and conditions of your agreement. However, if your ISP promised unlimited data and then imposed a limit on your service, this would be considered a false advertisement and illegal.

What Is Internet Throttling?

Internet throttling occurs when your ISP intentionally slows down your internet speed. They can limit the bandwidth available to you anytime, and you may not be aware that it is happening. Suppose you experience a noticeable reduction in speed when engaging in activities such as streaming, downloading, or gaming, and other factors such as weather or equipment issues can’t account for the slowdown. In that case, your ISP will likely restrict your internet connection.

With the widespread prevalence of internet throttling in recent years, companies such as Netflix and YouTube have developed speed testing tools to determine if you are receiving the speeds you have paid for. Your internet service provider may slow down your internet connection for various reasons, but the two most common causes are exceeding a data cap limit or network congestion.

How does Internet Throttling happen?

ISPs may intentionally reduce the speed of their customers’ internet service to regulate the total amount of bandwidth consumed. It can help them manage network congestion or generate additional revenue by charging for higher bandwidth privileges. Internet throttling is particularly prevalent among mobile and wireless ISPs.

Data Cap

If you have a monthly data limit, your ISP may slow down your internet speed as you near that limit. It can help you manage your data usage to avoid running out completely. However, if you require faster internet, you may have to upgrade to a plan with a larger data allowance or an unlimited data option.

Network Congestion

You may experience the effects of internet throttling at different times throughout the day. For instance, when many people are streaming movies on Netflix around 8 p.m., it can result in network congestion, which some ISPs address by throttling the internet speed. Limiting individual bandwidth allows more people to use the internet service simultaneously but with slower load times.

Paid Prioritization

Paid prioritization, referred to as “fast lane internet,” occurs when companies pay ISPs to prioritize their website or content to load faster than their competitors on a network. This practice has faced criticism, but it was made legal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2018.

How To Test That Internet Is Throttling?

Several factors can cause slow internet speeds, and internet throttling is not always the culprit. Testing for internet throttling may be necessary if you have already ruled out other potential issues such as poor internet connection, faulty router, or outdated technology.

Check Your Internet Speed

There are several free tools available for conducting an internet speed test. Google partnered with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) to provide a free internet connection speed test, including download and upload speeds. To use this tool, search for “internet speed test” on Google, and you should see a result at the top of the page with a button labeled “Run Speed Test.” The test will take only a minute to complete, and you will receive results you can use as a baseline reference.

If you observe reduced internet speeds or increased buffering during specific times of the day, which may be due to network congestion, run a speed test during that time.

Install A VPN

To determine if your internet is being throttled, compare your baseline internet speed results with your speed when protected from throttling. You can achieve this by downloading and using a reputable virtual private network (VPN) service, which guards against internet throttling.

Check Internet Speed With VPN

After setting up the VPN, conduct another speed test, making sure to perform it at roughly the same time as the control test for the most accurate results. It will account for internet throttling caused by network congestion. If the results of the VPN-protected speed test are significantly faster, it indicates that your internet is being throttled.

How Can You Stop Internet Throttling?

One option to steer clear of internet throttling is to utilize a virtual private network (VPN), which conceals your online activities from your ISP, thereby preventing them from throttling your internet service. However, there are drawbacks to using a VPN, such as the cost (especially for premium services) and some websites disabling VPN access.

If fast internet speed is a concern, it might be worth considering switching to a different internet service provider (ISP) or upgrading to a plan that offers a higher data cap. Fiber, DSL, and cable networks are better options as these ISPs usually don’t engage in internet throttling.


In conclusion, internet throttling occurs when your ISP intentionally slows down your internet speed. It can happen for various reasons, such as reaching a data cap limit, network congestion, or paid prioritization. You can test for internet throttling by conducting an internet speed test and comparing the results with and without a VPN. To avoid internet throttling, using a VPN or switching to a different ISP with better policies may be worth considering.

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