How to find out if your ISP is cutting your internet speed

Rojan Rajbhandari

Updated on:

Internet Speed Testing
Your internet speed could actually be slow on purpose

With the bored and frustrated Nepali population turning towards the arms of the Internet for comfort, the internet has become a very essential commodity during this quarantine. Whether it be to binge-watch the latest season of Money Heist, to work from home, or to learn a hobby you’ve been putting off for longer than Nepal has had democracy, the internet is playing its part in keeping people busy during these hectic and panic-stricken times. But as we mentioned in our last article, internet speed has been on the decline recently due to the unprecedented rise in service users. Due to this, it’s essential to tackle this problem if you’ve looking to be productive right now. Here’s how you can find if your ISP is chopping off your internet speed.

Testing with a VPN: Are you getting targeted?

I seriously doubt many readers will have never used or at least heard of a VPN. A VPN (short for Virtual Private Network) basically is a data routing service you can use to hide your data across the internet. A VPN works by encrypting your data and transferring it through the VPN servers rather than your ISP. This way when data is seen by a server, it seems as if the data comes from the VPN server rather than your own device. As the data is encrypted, even your Internet Service Provider is shielded from seeing your full identity.

1. Test your internet speed without using the VPN:

This is as straightforward as it gets. Open up a tab of any speed testing web service. The top ones and most reliable ones are Speedtest by Ookla, and SpeedCheck, you can pick the one you like.

Internet Speed
Internet Speed

You should get your results for the Ping time, Uplink speed and downlink speed. Depending on your setting, this may be in KBps or MBps. Now open up a new tab.

2. Test your speed WITH the VPN

Using a personal resource we fondly call common sense, it’s not hard to figure out why using a VPN would actually cause internet speed to suffer by a bit. Your internet traffic is getting encrypted, then is routed to a VPN server ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE GLOBE. Your internet speed is going to decrease by a bit no matter what, unless…

Open up a new tab, check your internet speed again. It’s vital that you use the same speed testing service as you did before as there may be delays between the different services. Here, yet once again you see the Ping rate, Uplink and Downlink speeds flashing before your eyes.

3. Compare the two figures

If the download and upload speeds are less than what is was without using a VPN (which is the way it should be), you’ll be delighted to know that no one is pulling strings behind your back. HOWEVER, if the speeds are greater than the ones when you’re not using a VPN, you should know that you are getting targeted on purpose.

ISPs are notorious for sneaking in a speed throttling loophole in their Fair Usage Policy(FUP). When you’re using a VPN, the VPN hides the IP address used to identify you. You can escape IP targeted speed throttling using the VPN.

How to fix this problem:

Contact your ISP:

You should contact your ISP’s help centre. For many private ISPs, the help desk services are still operational despite the lockdown. Ironically they might be suffering from the same speed problem as you do while working from home. Here, you should enquire about your speed throttling. Ask it to be fixed immediately.

Using the VPN for your browsing:

Many sites will have captcha protection and a boatload of other annoyances for VPN users. But if your internet speed is getting targeted and your ISP refuses to fix the mess, continuing with the VPN might be the best option you have left. While using a VPN, many sites keep asking you to verify your identity time and time again due to the unidentified IP address originating from another country. This is to prevent malicious hackers from accessing your personal accounts, so it’s actually for your own safety. (Or maybe the sites think you’ve magically teleported to another country and want to know your secret.) Either way, you’ve got to deal with this to escape the speed cap.

Bonus tip: Use an alternative DNS

A DNS or Domain Name System/Service is like a phone book that matches the web URL with the corresponding server IP address. When you type a URL, say ““, the DNS recognizes this and leads you to the server with the IP address corresponding to the URL.

Right now, DNS services are getting flooded. To avoid internet lags due to this problem, you should change your DNS provider from your ISP’s default public service to an alternative one. It’s critically important that you use a trusted DNS provider since all your internet traffic will be passing through it. Cloudflare’s and OpenDNS are two free and secure ones. You can also use paid DNS services; they’re faster and come with additional security features. To change your DNS, you can simply look up ‘How to change your DNS’ on Google or your favorite search engine. It is one of the top-searched terms for those looking to improve their internet speed.

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