Let’s talk bandwidth throttling. What is it? Why does it happen? How does it stack up against unlimited data? We’ve got everything you need to know here.
Do you love the freedom of having unlimited data but get frustrated by how slow your Internet service is working?
This is called bandwidth throttling, a reaction taken by communication networks to regulate network traffic and minimize bandwidth congestion. In other words, wireless carriers who are offering unlimited data plans are also cutting back your service speed once you hit a certain limit of data.
At this point, you may be wondering if it is worth paying for an unlimited data plan when the service provider is capping it anyway. Read on for a breakdown of how carriers control data usage and what this means for you.
Internet service providers sometimes use bandwidth throttling to help reduce the usage of bandwidth supplied to the local network. This can happen at different locations on the network. A provider may use bandwidth throttling on a local area network (LAN) to limit network congestion and server crashes.
You may notice your service going slower if you are streaming video or using file sharing applications. In this case, throttling is used to even out the usage of total bandwidth supplied across all users on the network.
Bandwidth throttling slows the rate at which a server accepts data. If there isn’t a limit set for throttling, your device can overload its capacity to process data.
For users to use available bandwidth but keep from using too much, a bandwidth cap is set to limit the number of bytes sent per unit time.
Standard capping prevents users from using up the entire data capacity. Otherwise, a lowered cap is used to reduce a user’s limit as a defensive measure or as a punishment for using too much of the medium’s bandwidth.
While bandwidth throttling regulates a server by limiting the amount of data it can accept or receive, bandwidth capping limits the total capacity of data over a medium.
Wireless carriers often boast unlimited data plans, but as previously stated, they use bandwidth throttling to regulate network traffic. Even the four major nationwide carriers have admitted to capping their customers’ unlimited data.
With unlimited data, smartphone users could download as much video, music, websites, and files that they wanted. But with more and more smartphones selling, the carriers saw a congestion with customers downloading these big files. Service quality began slowing down.
Bandwidth throttling is a technique used by almost all Internet service providers in an attempt to keep their services fast across a broad network of customers. If you have an unlimited data plan, there’s really no arguing against the bandwidth cap. However, there are ways you can make sure your service doesn’t get slowed down and you can continue to enjoy fast downloading rates.
To avoid being throttled, monitor how much data you are using. Begin by figuring out exactly how much data you are guaranteed through your plan. Several apps can help you monitor your data as well.
Use Wi-Fi to avoid using the data carrier’s network when you can use your home or office network. This helps conserve your data and can be more reliable if you are in one section of your own home because you’re unlikely to hit a dead zone.
When you do leave the home, set up your phone to sign into Wi-Fi hotspots automatically to reduce the amount of data you use. You should be able to find instructions for how to do this on your provider’s website.
Using streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix and Pandora is a major way your data gets exhausted early on in your billing period. Pay attention to how often you’re using these services and how many people are using them at one time in your household.
Games on tablets and smartphones are generally bandwidth intensive as well. If a game requires an active Internet connection to play, it is likely going to use up a ton of data.
Avoid games that require you to play and interact with others online. Also, avoid games with detailed 3D graphics that have large files to download.
One way to reduce bandwidth usage and speed up your Internet service is to compress data. Data compression technology available in the latest Chrome browsers can reduce data usage and improve web browsing speed on your mobile device. This technology will optimize content before it is sent to your mobile device.
Search in your app store for mobile apps that will compress data. These apps have the potential to decrease data usage by over 50 percent and significantly improve loading times on pages.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN service can help you bypass bandwidth throttling by hiding the kind of traffic you are using. A VPN encrypts your data. The network can tell that you are moving data, but the VPN prevents them from knowing what kind of data it is that you are moving.
This kind of service is especially helpful if you frequently use streaming services like Hulu or YouTube. But understand that a VPN service might not prevent you from being throttled is your carrier’s data cap doesn’t factor in the type of data you use.
Altogether, bandwidth throttling is something that is not going away. Even if you are paying for unlimited data, often times the fine print in the agreement with your service providers will state an upper limit at which the provider will throttle your service. Read through all of the marketing material when signing your usage plan, and use these tips to prevent from being throttled.