Slow loading times don’t always indicate internet throttling — you might be browsing during peak hours, or you might need to do some browser maintenance.
But maybe your ISP is deliberately impeding your connection to those sites. This may happen because you visit those sites frequently, or maybe your ISP’s available bandwidth is overloaded and they need to throttle your connection.
Also known as “bandwidth throttling” and “data throttling,” internet throttling violates the principle of net neutrality, which states that ISPs must give equal treatment to all communications over the internet.
In the worst-case scenario, you might be kept from doing your work or other important tasks. What's more, your ISP can keep providing subpar service with impunity. That’s an anti-consumer business practice, and it keeps the internet from being freely accessible to everyone.
If your internet connection has a real effect on your daily life, you should pay attention to bandwidth throttling.
How can I tell if my internet is being throttled?
If your internet is slower than normal, especially on certain websites, this may indicate that data throttling is happening on your connection. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, ask yourself: Is my internet being throttled?
If you don't experience slowdowns often, you don't need to worry about data throttling. But if you do, the next step is to use an internet throttling test, which analyzes your internet speed and lets you know if it's being messed with. And there are other services that help you spot connection abnormalities.
Here are the three easiest ways to check if your ISP is throttling your internet connection:
Option 1: Use the Internet Health Test to see how your internet performs over a short period of time. This test checks your connection speed to popular access points and detects any unusual slowdowns. Here’s what good results tend to look like:
This test detects whether your ISP is slowing down streaming platforms like Netflix. The ISP can use this tactic as a bargaining chip to get the streaming service to pay them, which is unfair to you.
Option 2: Check if certain ports are blocked. Gamers will want to go to WhatsMyIP.org, click Port Scanners, and then click Game Ports. This advice is relevant only if you use an open port while gaming online and have recently begun experiencing issues.
You should worry only if a game you play is coming back with a “Timed-Out” status. The first step in that case is to try port forwarding, if you haven’t done so already.
If you’ve been comfortably using one of these ports, and it suddenly hits you with a “Rejected” status, you might have a problem with throttling.
Option 3: Check if the speed of your internet changes when using a VPN. The simplest way to see if your internet is being throttled is to turn on a VPN (virtual private network) and compare the speed. Though your VPN may slow down your internet slightly, the difference is nothing compared to ISP throttling — and you can always make your VPN connection go faster.
If your internet is faster with your VPN on, your ISP might be throttling your internet. So why don't you just keep your VPN on all the time? Great question!
Solving content-based ISP throttling is one of the many benefits to using a VPN. A virtual private network also encrypts your data to prevent your ISP from monitoring what you do. Encryption secures your internet browsing, making any connection safe — including unsecured public Wi-Fi networks — as long as you’ve got the VPN turned on.
AVG Secure VPN is carefully designed to give you world-class online security, keep you anonymous while you browse, and bring the whole internet to your fingertips. Try it today with a 7-day free trial.
How to stop internet throttling
You can stop internet throttling by changing your ISP or hiding your internet activity with a VPN. Here are the best ways to stop internet throttling:
Switch to a new internet service provider.
Self-regulate your bandwidth use.
Upgrade your internet plan to a higher data cap.
Use a VPN.
Your ISP might have a policy on network throttling that you can find on their website — look in the terms and conditions for anything that mentions bandwidth limits, data caps, or similar terms. You can also learn about their throttling policies by reading user reviews. If you can’t or don’t want to switch ISPs, use a VPN.
How does a VPN stop internet throttling?
By encrypting your internet connection, a VPN prevents your ISP from monitoring your online activity and throttling you because of it. While your ISP can still impose limits on your total bandwidth use, you’ll no longer need to be worried about your activity compromising your connection.
VPNs are easy to set up, and masking your activity is a surefire way to stop your ISP from limiting your access to certain websites and services. And by hiding your IP address, VPNs open up your streaming and TV options significantly. (If you’re on mobile, check out our guide to setting up a mobile VPN.)
With military-grade encryption, AVG Secure VPN is the best VPN to stop internet throttling. Your internet use will stay hidden, protecting you against content-based internet throttling by your ISP. Whether your ISP is actually throttling your internet or not, go with the option that ensures they won't.
Why is my ISP throttling my internet?
Your ISP may throttle your internet to try to minimize congestion by managing traffic on its network. Throttling can also happen if you’ve reached your data cap (usage limit) within a given period. Only when throttling is used against you should you do something about it. In the meantime, you can also try boosting your Wi-Fi signal to see if that speeds things up.
The most common reasons your ISP throttles your internet connection and limits your data transmission speeds include:
Tackling network congestion
Heavy internet usage will slow down the internet speeds of other people in the same area. To compensate, ISPs may throttle the connection of anyone using high amounts of bandwidth. You may experience slower speeds for a little while, especially if you’ve been engaging in bandwidth-heavy activities, but this usually occurs only during short “rush hour” periods.
Your connection can become deprioritized if you've used a certain amount of bandwidth during the billing period — especially if your internet contract has a data cap. Even “unlimited” plans often have unofficial data caps. Your connection could be the first to get throttled in periods of network congestion, or your speeds might stay reduced until the next cycle starts.
If your work or other activity requires a stable, high-speed connection for hours at a time, look closely at your ISP’s policies on data use. Gamers will want the best setup possible, especially if they’re competing or streaming on Twitch.
Deprioritization of certain services
In many places, ISPs are allowed to limit access to streaming services as part of their efforts to manage everyone’s connections. But you shouldn’t be deprived of parts of the internet for arbitrary reasons totally unrelated to you. Likewise, those who want to stream without buffering might want to try a different ISP — if there are options where you live.
Is ISP throttling illegal?
ISP throttling is not illegal, and sometimes, it’s even necessary. Your connection would be much choppier if your ISP wasn't allowed to manage usage over its network. Throttling allows your ISP to ensure stable service for everyone using the internet. But there are some ways that throttling can be unethical.
Net neutrality in the US
In the US, ISPs weren't always allowed to throttle particular applications and services. But when the country’s net neutrality rules were repealed in 2018, these limits were removed. Now, ISPs are no longer legally required to treat all internet traffic equally.
ISPs are also allowed to make you pay for the “fast lane,” something that wasn't possible under net neutrality regulations. You’re presented with the “choice” to go with a standard connection or a marked-up package.
You might not have noticed the effects of net neutrality’s repeal, but an open and ethical internet provides equal opportunity to all. When the rulebook favors the corporate bottom line, you might be prevented from making a career pivot to online teaching or Twitch streaming. Net neutrality is an issue that concerns us all.
Bypass throttling with a VPN
AVG Secure VPN encrypts your online activity with a single click or tap. No matter where you are, your internet connection will be safe from prying eyes, with everything you do completely hidden.
If you're looking for the simplest throttle bypass, AVG Secure VPN will prevent ISPs from limiting any online activity they don’t like. And with your IP address masked, you’ll be able to unblock websites, avoid IP-based web tracking, and prevent location-based price discrimination.
Take back the internet for yourself today, and try AVG Secure VPN with a 7-day free trial.