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How to check if Internet is being throttled?

Imagining a day without having the Internet. It will be a nightmare for most of us. While the world is constantly on the move, ahead on technology it's even more frustrating when your internet connection lags. A slow internet connection makes you feel like your entire world has suddenly shifted to be slow motion.

You can still afford to bear a slow internet connection while browsing a website. However, it gets overly frustrating when you have throttled internet connection while watching a video, playing a game or in the middle of a P2P file transfer.

A lot of reasons could be behind a slow internet connection and one of the top reasons would be internet throttling. Yes, many times your internet connection is being throttled by your ISP without your knowledge.

Before moving on further, let us understand what Internet throttling is and why it is happening.

What is Internet Throttling?

Internet Throttling is also referred to as Bandwidth throttling. Internet Throttling is intentionally done by an Internet service provider and amounts to slowing or speeding of network connection. In case the network provider finds bandwidth congestion, then internet throttling (or bandwidth throttling) is done. Alternatively, ISPs also speed up connections for specific services or speed testing purposes.

This is done as part of a corrective measure. Internet throttling is done to reduce the usage of the bandwidth of any specific user that is resulting in bandwidth congestion. Usually done to reduce the overloading of traffic over specific servers.

Apart from bandwidth throttling from congestion, a user may be throttled if he/she reaches the upper limit of a subscribed data plan. Throttling over data plans is much common and is completely legal, based on the terms of service agreement. Certain ISPs also throttle bandwidth during specific hours of the day such as peak hours.

A common debate is if the internet or bandwidth throttling is legal?

Most network providers make these fine-print agreements as part of the service contract. In such cases, you cannot take legal action for being throttled, in case it's a valid reason. It is best to read all fine print of the terms and conditions before you chose any ISP service.

Also, if your geographical region does not have any specific laws surrounding net neutrality or does not support net neutrality, then the ISP can choose to throttle your bandwidth.

The hardest to detect is when your bandwidth is throttled while you are using specific services or protocols. For instance, a network provider will throttle your bandwidth while you access Netflix or an HD video. Now, this would seem unfair.

Ways to check if Internet is being throttled

You realize your bandwidth is throttled when you find slowness while viewing videos over YouTube or Netflix. Such videos may take a longer time to buffer. The best way to check this is by making note of the internet speed.

While using any specific plan, you would have signed for a specific speed. Using a speed test service, you can check if the speed is close to the ISP's promised speed. There are a few companies offering free Internet speed test, and they include Ookla, Spectrum, AT&T and Fast.com to name a few.

Compare your regular browsing speed with video viewing speed when you find the slowness of the internet. Fast.com from Netflix is also often used to check internet speed.

More elaborate testing of internet speed can be done using the Internet Health Test. This provides a detailed flow path for the complete traffic and lets you pinpoint any specific speed throttling. Google also provides a Google Video Quality Report. This lets you trace the path of web traffic and gives you a speed report based on your location.

Wehe is an app available over the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This is another popular app used to check internet speed over mobile.

If you experience slowness while using BitTorrent, you can use Neubot to test your Internet speed. However, to use this, you need to download and install the software. Neubot is a bit more complex tool to measure internet speed but is suitable for testing bit torrent internet speed. Neubot lets you check HTTP as well as Bit Torrent. During peak time when traffic congestion occurs, ISP may be throttling your Bit Torrent connection.

If you have issues specifically with YouTube (or any other video streaming services), you can tweak your resolution to compensate lower quality video over buffering. YouTube also provides a standard guideline of resolution that will work over different internet speeds. YouTube bitrates let users estimate a video speed. While this is an approximate value, if you find unusual buffering or slowness, then you can be sure your internet is being throttled.

ISPs oftentimes do not provide the speed they promise to their customers. To determine if you're getting the speed you've subscribed to, you need to perform speed tests a few times throughout the day. This will let you clearly observe any specific slowness at certain times. Slowness might also depend on the number of users getting connected, so it may happen at peak times.

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