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Home / NewTech / Your service provider may be throttling your Internet. Here's how to check this

Your service provider may be throttling your Internet. Here's how to check this



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Tyler Lizenby / CNET

There is hardly anything more angry than a Netflix show that stutters and stops right at the climax thanks to poor WiFi. The collective moan, the hold of breath as a hold at 99%, the children who cry to Moana to come back: all of this could be avoided if the internet simply remained stable. Unfortunately, a stable internet is rarely our reality, and in many areas the possibilities of internet service providers are too limited to solve the problem.

What's worse, last year's Supreme Court decision to refuse a hearing. Regarding net neutrality, ISPs can continue to throttle your internet, restrict your broadband if you stream more YouTube or Hulu than they want to and provide slower links to websites owned by their competitors. Fortunately, has a solution to some of these problems : the virtual private network. Basically, ISPs need to see your IP address to slow down your internet, and a good VPN protects that identity. Here's how to find one and check if your ISP is artificially slowing your internet.

Step 1

Test Your Internet Health

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

You can measure the health of your Internet in many ways, but I would suggest using a simple test by M- Lab to start. This will check your connection speed and essentially measure whether your ISP is performing consistently regardless of the content you are accessing. This measurement is not perfect, but it is a good starting point.

Step 2

Finding a Reliable VPN

Norton

If you've done an initial basic Internet health test and still think something is wrong with your ISP, start with looking for VPNs. There are dozens of reasons to get one, and just as many factors to consider when looking for the best virtual private network, e.g. B. Security, price and server locations. Fortunately, we have already done this work for you. Check out our suggestions here:

CNET selects the best VPNs.

Step 3

Compare your speed with the VPN.

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Next, test your internet speed somewhere like Fast.com or Speedtest.net. Compare the results with the same test if your VPN is active. Using a VPN should decrease your speed significantly, so the speed tests should show a discrepancy, with the VPN active speed being significantly slower than the VPN inactive speed. However, a VPN also hides the IP address that providers use to identify you. If your speed test with the VPN is faster than without a VPN, it may mean that your ISP is targeting your IP address for throttling.

Step 4

Fix Your Internet

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

OK, that's the hard part. Even if you find out that your provider is throttling your internet, you may not be able to do much. Many people in the U.S. live in regions with ISP monopolies or duopoles, so you may not find a better provider. But here are some useful answers:

  • If you have options, use the best provider in your area. The measurement laboratory provides a good resource for finding information specific to your region and can lead you to a more reliable ISP.
  • Use your VPN to maintain more consistent speeds. A VPN cannot solve a bad connection or other reasons for your slow service, but it can reduce throttling from unscrupulous ISPs.
  • Call your provider and threaten to change providers if the provider does not stop throttling your Internet. This may seem old-fashioned and I can't guarantee lasting results, but vendors have responded positively to such tactics when I used them.

Originally published February 8, 8:00 am EST.

Correction, February 10, : This article incorrectly attributed last year's net neutrality decision to the Supreme Court, not the DC Circuit Court that ruled the case. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. The article has been corrected.

Update, February 12, : Some readers reported problems with a speed test link, so we replaced it with another verified test.


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