provider cutting down net speed

Is Your Provider Slowing Down Your Net On Purpose?

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3/07/2016 by

Last year in February, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) passed a new set of laws that prevented Internet Service Providers from slowing down the connection speeds to certain services in order to charge their users more. Even though the law was passed, and every provider is supposed to obey it, the question is – are they really doing it? A couple of months later, in July, a study by the internet activist BattlefortheNet found large degradations of networks for five largest providers in the United States.

When you are online, you want to stream, browse and download without interruption at maximum speed at all times – however, time and again you find that your connection is too slow. Have you ever wondered if a 720p video on Netflix needs only 3 to 4Mbps of bandwidth and if your speed is supposed to be 20Mbps, why does the stream always stutter? The most likely culprit for the slow speed is intentional network manipulation, and there are two ways your provider can slow your speed – peering agreements and throttling.

Peering Agreements

How: The ISPs regularly use each other’s networks to distribute content to their users in the quickest way possible. In most cases, a peering agreement dictates that the traffic sent between the two networks must maintain a certain ratio that both organizations agree on, and since most of the networks have large capacities, obstructions rarely occur. However, some providers, like Comcast, Verzion and AT&T, choose to ignore congestion issues during network exchanges intentionally.

Why: When the providers sell other services like sponsored music videos, alternative services become competition. Some providers deliberately ignore network congestion to damage the performance of the competing service. In some cases, they even require the service to compensate them for facilitating the bandwidth need to avoid the blockage.


How: Providers often use DPI (Deep Pocket Inspection) servers to examine your Web traffic and identify what traffic they want to slow down. For example, if you are using a service that competes with your provider, the ISP may choose to slow down your connection. Deep Pocket Inspection also has privacy implications, as they are inspecting your personal information, but despite the risks, IPSs use this tactic regularly to throttle users.

Why: Sometimes, providers do not want to invest more money in their networks to provide the users with the speeds they promise. Other times, even if you have a high bandwidth, if you are using “too much” data, the provider may simply decide to limit your speed. Not surprisingly, throttling is extremely popular in regions where a particular ISP holds a monopoly, and does not have much opposition in the market.

Compare Your Plan and Speed

The first thing you need to do is log onto your ISPs site (or give them a call, if you are old fashioned) and find out what plan you exactly have. After that, run an html5 speed test and if the numbers do not match up, then you know that you have a problem, and it is time to find a new provider. You may choose a different type of provider, like DSL, cable or fiber, but make sure to do a little bit of research before signing any contracts.


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