How to determine if your provider is throttling your internet – CNET

TP-Link ac5400 gaming router 1

TP-Link ac5400 gaming router 1

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

There is hardly anything more annoying than a Netflix show that stutters and stops right before the climax thanks to poor WiFi. The collective moan, the breath held when the charging was 99% interrupted, the kids who called to Moana to come back: all of this could be avoided if the internet were simply to remain stable. Stable Internet is rarely our reality, however, and in many areas, Internet Service Provider (ISP) options are too limited to solve the problem.

What's worse with last year's Supreme Court ruling on net neutrality, ISPs can still throttle your internet and limit your broadband streaming more YouTube or Hulu than they wantand slower connections to their competitors' websites. Fortunately there is a solution to some of these problems: the virtual private network (VPN). Basically, ISPs need to see your IP address to slow down the Internet, and a good VPN protects that identity. Follow these steps to find one and check if your ISP artificially slows down your Internet.

Step 1

Test your internet health

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

You can measure the health of your internet in several ways, but I would recommend starting with a simple test through Battle for the Net. This will check your connection speed across some "connection points". It essentially measures whether your ISP is performing consistently regardless of the content you access. This measurement is not perfect, but it is a good starting point.

step 2

Find a reliable VPN


If you've done a basic first test of your internet integrity and still think there's something wrong with your internet service provider, you should start the VPN search. There are dozens of reasons to get one, as well as many factors to consider when looking for the best virtual private network, such as: B. Security, price and server locations. Fortunately, we have already done a lot for you. Check out our list of the best VPNs for 2020 to get suggestions.

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 the provider uses to identify you when your speed test is done with the VPN more quickly This may mean that your ISP selects 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 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 a few useful answers:

  • If you to do If you have options, use the best provider in your area. Measurement Lab is a good resource for finding information specific to your region and can lead you to a more reliable ISP.

  • Use your VPN to ensure smoother 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.