Slow Wi-Fi? Your ISP could be throttling your Internet connection

This story is part of Tips for the homeCNET’s collection of how-to tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Is your internet suddenly moving slowly? It could be due to a outdated router or a less than ideal router location. Your connection problems may just need an easy solution, such as upgrade to a mesh network (which it also has to be installed in the right place) Or simply restart your modem and router. But if he’s already tried many of the tried-and-true methods and his Internet speeds are still slow, the problem could be something your internet service provider you are doing intentionally: bandwidth throttling.

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Yes, you read that right. Your ISP might be making your Wi-Fi slower on purpose. due to a 2019 Supreme Court decision in which the court refused to hear an appeal on net neutrality, ISPs can still legally throttle your internet, limit your bandwidth if you’re streaming more TV than they want and serving up slower connections to websites owned by your competitors.

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A solution to slow wifi (if it is caused by internet limitation) is a virtual private network
. Basically, ISPs need to see your IP address to slow down your internet, and a good vpn will protect that identity, although this does come with some limitations and drawbacks, which I’ll discuss below. We’ll show you how to tell if throttling is to blame, and if not, what to do to fix your lousy Wi-Fi. (You can also learn more about how to have free wifi anywhere in the world.)

Step 1

First, troubleshoot your slow internet connection

So your Wi-Fi is slow and you think your service provider is throttling your connection. Before jumping to those conclusions, it’s important to go through the usual troubleshooting list: check that your router is located in the center of your home, reposition your antennas, double check your network security, etc. If you want to read more ways to optimize your Wi-Fi, check out our suggestions.

If you’ve checked the laundry list and your Wi-Fi is still running slowly, move on to the next step.

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Step 2

Test your internet speed


Step 3

Find a reliable VPN

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Step 4

Compare your speed with the VPN

Then test your internet speed somewhere like either Compare the results with the same test when your VPN is active. Using any VPN should slow your speed down considerably, so speed tests should show a discrepancy, with active VPN speed being noticeably slower than idle VPN speed. But a VPN also hides the IP address that providers use to identify you, so if your speed test with the VPN is faster than without the VPN, that may mean your ISP is targeting your IP address for throttling.

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Ok, this is the hard part. Even if you find that your provider is throttling your internet, there may not be much you can do. Many people in the US live in regions with ISP monopolies or duopolies, so you may not be able to find a better provider. But here are some useful answers:

  • If you to do You have options, use the best provider in your area. measurement laboratory provides a good resource for finding information specific to your region and can guide you to a more reliable ISP.
  • Use your VPN to maintain more consistent speeds. A VPN can’t solve a bad connection or other reasons behind your slow service, but it can mitigate throttling from unscrupulous ISPs.
  • Call your provider and threaten to switch providers if they don’t stop throttling your internet. This may seem outdated and I can’t guarantee lasting results, but vendors have responded positively to such tactics when I’ve used them.

Read more about him The best VPNs to use while working from homethe faster vpn Y VPN you can try for free before buying. And here are the best high speed ISPs Y the best Wi-Fi extender for almost everyone.

Correction, February 10, 2020: This article previously wrongly attributed the 2019 net neutrality ruling to the Supreme Court, rather than the DC Circuit Court that decided the case. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

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