If your online speeds ever take a sudden hit when you’re playing your favorite online game, downloading some files, or binging the latest Netflix hit show, you might be the victim of bandwidth throttling – especially if it happens regularly.
Don’t worry, though – we’ll show you exactly how to bypass bandwidth throttling, and teach you everything you need to know about it in this article.
Bandwidth throttling is when ISPs intentionally limit user bandwidth to slow down their connection speeds on any device. Bandwidth throttling is also known as an Internet bottleneck or data throttling, and it’s possible because your ISP can freely monitor everything you do on the Internet, so they know which activities consume the most data.
Overall, here are the main reasons your ISP might start throttling your bandwidth:
Since the main reason your ISP can normally freely throttle your bandwidth is because they can see what you are doing online, it’s clear that you need to find a way to completely mask your Internet activities in order to bypass bandwidth throttling.
As difficult as that might sound, there’s actually a rather simple solution. You just need to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service, and you’re all set. If you’re not familiar with VPNs, they are services you can use to hide your IP address and Internet traffic.
Basically, a VPN will use powerful encryption to protect your online traffic from ISP monitoring. If they will try to take a look at what you do on the Internet, they will just see gibberish. They won’t be able to see what websites you access, what files you download, or what web apps you use.
Well, it’s true that Tor (The Onion Router) can also help you bypass bandwidth throttling since it’s an anonymity network that hides your Internet traffic by having it bounce between multiple, different relays.
What’s the problem then? It’s pretty simple – the main flaw with Tor is that while your traffic is encrypted when it’s bounced between relays, it’s usually no longer encrypted when it passes through the last relay (called the exit relay).
In that case, your ISP still won’t be able to see your Internet traffic and throttle your bandwidth, but the ISP of the exit relay’s owner might be able to see their traffic. As a result, you still might have to put up with some form of slowdown if said ISP decides to throttle the relay owner’s bandwidth.
Normally, you should be able to do that. A VPN would help you bypass the bandwidth limitations placed on your room by the network admin, and would help you access any content that’s blocked on the hotel’s WiFi. What’s more, a VPN would also help you avoid getting kicked off the WiFi if you download torrents.
Still, there is something you should know. If the network admin throttles room WiFi bandwidth per SSID instead of per user, a VPN might not help you bypass that issue. SSID is basically the name of the WiFi network, so the only way you could bypass hotel bandwidth throttling in that situation would be if you connect to a different WiFi network.
So, if a VPN doesn’t help you bypass hotel WiFi throttling, or if you just want to make sure you have a backup plan to rely on, you could try the following:
It can be a bit hard to tell, but one of the most obvious signs of bandwidth throttling is if your online speeds suddenly start taking a hit either towards the end of the month, or during certain times during the week or day (potential peak network usage times).
You can always ask your ISP if they throttle your bandwidth too. Naturally, you might not always get a clear, transparent answer, but if you know your ISP has a “fair usage policy,” their customer support reps might be more likely to be open about throttling your bandwidth. If not, you can at least assume that is happening at the very least.
To get an accurate answer, though, we’d recommend using some Internet speed test tools:
This tool checks if you are experiencing any connection issues at various interconnection points, which are routes your Internet traffic goes through on its way to the web (your ISP’s network being one good example).
Normally, low test results can indicate bandwidth throttling.
This is a great tool you can normally use to test VPN speeds. However, you can also test your own connection speeds for signs of bandwidth throttling. The only downside is that you need to use it consistently over the course of a week or – better yet – a month.
If the SpeedTest.net results showcase sudden, unexplainable drops in speed during specific times of the day or near the end of the month, it’s likely you’re dealing with bandwidth throttling.
This is a testing tool developed by Netflix, whose main purpose is to help online users find out if their ISPs are throttling their bandwidth. This tool is best used together with SpeedTest.net. Just check to see if your Netflix speeds are lower than your SpeedTest.net results. If they are, it’s likely your ISP is throttling your bandwidth.
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Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing down of user bandwidth by an ISP. While they might have some understandable reasons for doing that (like alleviating network congestion), it’s also hard to overlook that many ISPs engage in bandwidth throttling for profit.
All’s not lost, though – you can easily bypass bandwidth throttling with the help of a VPN service since it encrypts your traffic, ensuring your ISP can’t see what you do on the Internet. In turn, that means they can’t throttle your bandwidth since they don’t know what you use data for.
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