Do you think your service provider is throttling your internet? Here’s how to check CNET


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

At this point in the Corona virus crisisMany of us rely more on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which makes it all the more annoying when a show stutters thanks to poor WiFi and stops right at the climax. The collective moan, the hold of breath as a hold at 99%, the children who cry to Elsa or Moana to come back: All of this could be avoided if the internet simply remained stable. Unfortunately, stable Internet is rarely our reality, and in many areas, ISP options are too limited to solve the problem.

What’s worse with Supreme Court decision last year To reject an appeal for net neutrality, ISPs can continue to throttle your internet and restrict your broadband when you stream more YouTube or Hulu than they wantand to provide slower connections to their competitors’ websites. Fortunately there is 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.

Continue reading: The best Wi-Fi extender for almost everyone

Step 1.

Test your internet health

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

You can measure the condition of your internet in different ways. However, I would recommend starting with a simple test by M-Lab. 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.

Find a reliable VPN


If you’ve done a basic initial internet health test and still think your internet service provider may have a problem, you should look 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 in a place like or Compare the results with the same test if your VPN is active. Using a VPN should significantly slow down your speed 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. So if your speed test is with the VPN more quickly This may mean that your ISP sets your IP address as the destination 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 US live in regions with ISP monopolies or duopoles, so you may not find a better provider. But here are some useful answers:

  • If you do If you have options, use the best provider in your area. The measurement laboratory is 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 they don’t 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.

Correction, February 10th: 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.