Does a VPN Stop Throttling?
Updated: December 12, 2016
Yes, if you are using a VPN, your ISP cannot see your data and so cannot throttle your bandwidth on the basis of what you are doing. This is because all of your online traffic is encrypted, so your ISP has no idea what you are doing online.
Throttling, or Bandwidth Throttling to give it its full name, is a hugely frustrating practice of many ISPs these days and is a direct result of the ubiquitous nature of internet usage these days. Yet many people are unaware that it is a common ISP practice and in some cases even that such a practice exists at all.
Yet, with the simple addition of a VPN to your online toolkit, you can protect your data and so stop your ISP from throttling your bandwidth. It’s one of the lesser known advantages of a VPN, yet can make a significant difference to your online experience.
What is Bandwidth Throttling?
Bandwidth Throttling is a frustratingly common practice and can severely inhibit your enjoying of online streaming services. The practice is when your ISP deliberately slows down your connection speed based on what you are watching.
The rise in popularity of services such as Netflix and Hulu has seen more and more people streaming content online. This in turn has put increased pressure on ISPs to maintain their promised bandwidth in the face of significantly higher usage.
They therefore have developed the practice of examining the data of what you are doing online. When they see packets of data from online streaming services such as those above, they slow down your internet connection.
Why would my ISP want to slow down my connection?
If you put this question to your ISP directly, they will give you a relatively straightforward answer. The common claim is that bandwidth throttling is only done to reduce congestion on their networks at busy times of day.
But there is more to it than that, especially if your ISP offers a streaming service of their own. Because it is now an increasingly common practice for ISPs to deliberately slow down rival services to boost the appearance of their own. This can in some cases be occurring despite a lack of congestion and the availability of extra capacity on their network.
These are not just wild conspiracy theories we are throwing around here either. Netflix has already confirmed that it has been forced to pay fees to some ISPs in order to stop the practice being used against their service.
How do they get away with this? Well there are not many ISP providers in the market and this lack of competition allows for such practices, especially when ISP work together, as they do in the practice of Peering.
What is Peering?
Peering is a relatively beneficial practice when two ISPs are connected together and exchange traffic. It is supposed to mean that one ISPs bandwidth can be used to support the other at times, and vice-versa.
But it runs into problems when streaming services come into play as this can push traffic usage far too high and lead to the other ISP refusing to adjust their network to compensate.
How does this impact on you? Well it basically can mean your internet connectivity is much slower, regardless of what package your pay for.
So how can a VPN solve these problems?
Both the issue of throttling and peering can be solved by using a VPN.
The practice of throttling is done on an individual basis and relies on your ISP analyzing your usage data to determine what services you are using. If they see a streaming service, they can then choose to throttle your connection.
However, with a VPN, your internet connection is completely encrypted, meaning that there is no way that your ISP can see what your data. Without this information, they cannot tell if you are using a streaming service and are therefore not likely to throttle your connection. This means that your Netflix or Hulu viewing experience should be enhanced, in some cases quite significantly.
As for the related issue of Peering, this problem is solved by a VPN because your data is travelling through a different, more efficient route. Rather than being diverted through different ISPs it is on a private network and should send it down a much more direct route, meaning that any reduction is service speeds should be minimized.
Whilst they would be causing a huge public outcry if they were more commonly known, the practice of throttling, and the related issue of Peering is worryingly common these days. But with a VPN you have a simple, cost-effective, ready-made solution. And what’s more, one which brings a whole load of other benefits as well.