How Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cause slow internet speeds

woman working on her laptop is frustrated because of her slow internet connection

Wondering why your internet speed is suddenly so slow? It is particularly noticeable when you are streaming a TV show or playing a video game, and it randomly starts buffering or freezing. 

A lot of the time when this happens we brush it off as a temporary glitch and work around it by resetting our routers or waiting it out. We often also accept it as part of the deal we signed up for, as the internet is a fallible technology that is meant to disappoint us every now and then.

These sudden lapses in internet performance are actually more intentional than you think. It can be used as a profit-generating tactic that ultimately leaves you as an Internet user with the short end of the stick, and unfairly deprived of the minimum level of performance quality that you paid for.

Throttling: The reason why your internet speeds is suddenly slow

Throttling is when your internet provider deliberately restricts your internet bandwidth without telling you, resulting in a lower speed than what you paid for. ISPs often throttle internet speeds to:

1. Manage network traffic

During peak times, the bandwidth may not accommodate the influx of users who are all online at the same time, resulting in slow internet speeds. Internet providers then have to ration the bandwidth so everyone can access the internet during times of network congestion. 

The problem with this scenario is that it often gets blurry. Specific users get discriminated against, and even more concerning, properly managed networks shouldn’t have such noticeable dips in speed.  

2. Perform paid prioritisation

While this has legal ramifications and thus may not be overly practised, paid prioritisation is still a common practice that is often justified in the murky finer print and causes slow internet speeds.

 An internet provider can simply offer higher bandwidth for specific websites that it owns, or because they were paid to provide faster load times from website owners. 

3. React to your data threshold/bandwidth package

Internet data packages are often capped, and once you’ve hit your limit, your bandwidth slows down. Internet activity inherently involves data download and upload, from basic tasks like reading a website, streaming content to heavy content creation on social media. So you may be hitting your limit without being aware of it.

4. Deter prohibited activities

Internet providers can throttle your connection if you partake in online activities that are deemed illegal. Though this makes moral sense, it often raises concerns about your data privacy. It also circles back to one of the main qualms with throttling: lack of transparency from providers who throttle your connection without letting you know. 

If you want to find out whether your internet is throttled, you can run an internet speed test and find out what speed you are currently at. Measurement Lab Speed’s speed test, can compare your results with the data plan you currently have. It is important to note that providers protect themselves from pushback by adding “speeds up to …” as a clause. This leaves them wiggle room to fluctuate your connection speed whenever they feel the need to throttle bandwidth.

Lack of internet equity

It is easy to surmise the underpinning of what is often the real reason behind slow internet speed, which is maximising profits at the lowest cost possible. Because if network congestion is really the core of why internet providers slow down bandwidth so everyone has fair access, it begs the question of why they can’t invest in better infrastructure to handle the demand. 

Evidently, they are looking for the bigger bang for the buck. Instead of paying for a bigger pie so everyone gets an equally big piece of it, they opt to save money and keep the smaller pie. Some people get a big piece while others end up with a smaller piece. Everyone gets a piece–but are they all treated fairly, and most of all, is it the piece they paid for?

Pure fibre internet for seamless use

Simply put, pure fibre internet is “uncapped, unshaped and unthrottled”. While running at significantly higher speeds than cable, there is enough bandwidth for you to use the internet seamlessly without any interruptions, buffering and other hiccups. 

The infrastructure is substantial enough to accommodate as many users as possible without the politics of providers rationing bandwidth and you ending up with slow internet speeds. With that said, it’s important to be mindful that not all fibre internet is the same. BrooksNET is installing pure fibre that runs directly to your home without any intermediaries. It lives up to its promise of high internet speed and thus, is not prone to throttling.

Sign up with BrooksNET today to get pure fibre to your home.