You’ve paid your money for your high-speed internet package. You’ve received your new modem and set everything up, and the ISP company has switched it on. So why is it that you aren’t getting the promised speeds?
Many ISPs advertise incredible download speeds, even if you have to pay a lot for the privilege. But the advertised speeds are often not what you will get, and if you don’t know how broadband works, this may come as a disappointment to you.
Over-subscription is a common cause of occasional problems. ISPs sell more packages than their network can handle. That is done on the assumption that not everyone will be online simultaneously and that they can hence safely sell more than they can provide at full speed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way instead. There are often when the system gets congested. There are often periods during peak times when there are so many people online at the same time that the speed that each can use is significantly reduced. At these times, they have to share available resources, and this means slower download speeds.
There are other possible reasons for a slow down on your internet speed. Some companies have been known to employ something called throttling. That is the deliberate slowing down of your downloads during peak times if you have already downloaded more than a certain amount of data. It may not seem fair that they do this, but the justification is that if lots of people were to be downloading large amounts of data during the peak operating hours, then it could cause congestion on the network.
That would lead to a general slowdown of download speeds and browsing speeds, which would negatively affect those who are not downloading as much as it affects you. Hence, they apply throttling techniques to limit traffic during the busiest hours. However, outside of those hours, you are likely to be able to download normally again.
Other customers may be throttled when they have exceeded their download limit for the month. Some packages only allow a certain amount of data to be used at the maximum speed, beyond which your speed will drop to a default minimum.
Looking at the terms of service for your ISP can help you determine whether you are being subjected to throttling. If you are, you can avoid going over your data allowance or avoid downloading during peak times so that you aren’t subjected to a throttle.
Lastly, physical differences can affect your internet download speed too. Not everyone will have access to a physical infrastructure that is as good as others, and a poor connection can drastically reduce your connection speed. Understanding what broadband is can help people realize that their download speeds don’t actually indicate a problem with their service but are instead a natural consequence of the service’s normal variations.