We all know that having access to a broadband connection to your home has been a major technological breakthrough - and that's understating it by quite some way. But even now in the 2020s, home internet is rife with niggles. And speed throttling is high on the list.
Typically, you subscribes to your broadband service from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) on a monthly basis, agreeing for a monthly fee to receive a certain amount of download and upload speed.
But in some cases, the ISP oversells its network and if each of its users utilized their broadband connection at maximum speed, the ISP’s network would be overloaded and not able to handle the heavy load of internet traffic. In those cases, an ISP will then put the brakes on the heavier users and apply internet throttling - also known as bandwidth throttling.
One reliable solution to throttling is to put your internet traffic through a VPN. We'll explain why below.
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Throttling is a worldwide issue
We understand throttling to a degree, and we see how some load balancing does sometimes need to be applied to the network. It's a bit like the electrical grid on a hot day with the power company implementing rolling brownouts to keep all users connected.
However, as you pay for your internet plan based on the bandwidth selected, it is easy to see how frustrated users will get when their, by way of example, 100Mbps download speed gets cut down to those pokey dial up speeds of yesteryear. This becomes especially noticeable with multiple users online simultaneously, when streaming of HD or 4K video content.
Some folks think the ISPs do this to counter the trend to ‘cord cutting’ as the online streaming content directly competes with cable video offerings.
Think this is all a conspiracy theory? Studies based on worldwide data collection found a multitude of ISPs across several different countries throttling.
A straightforward solution
So what is the solution? One approach is to change to a different ISP, although this is not easy and it may be unknown if the next ISP is going to have a similar broadband throttling practice.
But avoiding speed throttling is probably one of the lesser-discussed VPN uses (alongside more well-known security, privacy and international streaming). By sending and receiving the data for your streaming video through the encrypted tunnel of the VPN, and away from the prying eyes of your ISP, it keeps it from being classified as from a throttled site and therefore it should proceed at full speed.
Furthermore, there can also be peering conflicts that slow data transfer down. This is when two ISPs connect and exchange traffic, which can cause one of the involved ISP’s to exceed a previously agreed upon traffic ratio as they take the Netflix traffic from another ISP. By keeping the traffic in the encrypted tunnel of a Netflix VPN, this protected data then gets shuttled on a private network via the most direct and uncongested path and avoids any slowdowns.
- Check out our list of the best VPN services (opens in new tab)