Bypass ISP throttling and get a faster internet

Don’t let ISP throttling slow down your Friday night.

  • Have you noticed slow speeds on YouTube videos?
  • Do Netflix videos take forever to load and buffer?
  • Is your ISP throttling your streaming video traffic?
  • Use a VPN to bypass throttling and peering conflicts.
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What is ISP bandwidth throttling, exactly?

A buffering laptop connected to the internet with an eye overlooking the connection.

Throttling is when an internet service provider (ISP) intentionally slows down your internet based on what you’re trying to do online.

With the rise of streaming video services like Netflix, HBO Max, and even YouTube that demand high bandwidth, ISPs have begun inspecting your data and restricting your download speed if they detect packets from those services. ISPs claim this is to reduce congestion on their networks, but the truth is more complicated.

Why do ISPs throttle the internet?

There are several reasons for ISP throttling. If you’ve used a certain amount of data in a certain period of time, your ISP might start throttling your connection so you’ll use less data. Streaming sites use a lot of bandwidth, so ISPs tend to start throttling when they notice you streaming. And during periods of network congestion, ISPs might throttle connections to balance their network speeds, helping as many users as possible get decent service. Finally, ISPs in countries with heavy censorship throttle on some sites to frustrate users, discouraging them from visiting that content without outright blocking it.

How to tell if your internet is being throttled

The best way to know if your internet speed is being throttled is by running an internet speed test—with and without a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts your internet traffic, shielding your online activity from your service provider. If your internet speed improves with the use of a VPN, there's a good chance your ISP is throttling your internet connection.

Bandwidth throttling hurts customers

Some ISPs already have the capability to handle the extra data but choose to throttle content providers’ traffic because it competes with their own streaming content libraries. Some ISPs have forced Netflix to pay a fee to escape throttling, allowing the ISP to avoid paying for much-needed upgrades. Lack of competition among ISPs and broadband providers means that companies can even get away with overcharging customers for faster internet.

Learn more about other topics related to internet freedom.

What is peering?

What is peering? Diagram showing two ISPs restricting the speed of a laptop streaming video.

Peering is when two ISPs connect and exchange traffic. Mutually beneficial under normal circumstances, peering causes problems when a popular streaming service (such as Netflix) forces one ISP to exceed the agreed traffic ratio, prompting the other one to ignore congestion and refuse to make adjustments.

That means you could be denied the internet speeds you paid for simply because your ISP refuses to resolve a peering conflict with another company.

Diagram: How to bypass throttling with a VPN.

What’s the best way to bypass bandwidth throttling?

If your ISP is throttling your bandwidth, and switching providers is not an option, the easiest solution is to connect through VPN. Your ISP won’t be able to inspect the data packets, so it won’t be able to throttle that traffic based on what service you’re using. The result is unlimited bandwidth for pure, unrestricted streaming video.

How to bypass peering conflicts with a VPN: Diagram showing an ISP unable to slow video because of peering.

How to bypass peering conflicts with a VPN

Using a VPN also solves the congestion caused by peering conflicts. Instead of going through a third-party ISP to reach your content, your traffic travels on a privately maintained network, taking the most direct, least congested path between you and the content you love.

How to stop your ISP from throttling Netflix

Many ISPs throttle streaming services such as Netflix, with Comcast admitting to having done so in the past—though it‘s since claimed that this is no longer in practice. But if you want to be sure, a VPN is your best bet for throttle-free streams all day, no matter which ISP or network you’re on.

How do I know if my ISP is throttling my Netflix?

The simplest ways to know is by running a speed test on your internet connection while watching Netflix. Do this with and without a VPN. If it’s faster with a VPN, that is a good indication that you’re being throttled.

Defeat ISP throttling in 3 easy steps

Step 1

How to sign up for ExpressVPN

Sign up for ExpressVPN, with its blazing-fast speeds.

Step 2

Connect to a VPN server location in one of 105 countries.

Step 3

A fast connection that's avoiding being throttled.

Enjoy faster speeds and no more throttling based on content. Bye-bye, buffering.

Frequently asked questions: ISP throttling


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