There is a movement for Slow Food (as opposed to fast food or just not savoring your meal) and Slow Travel is proving popular. Some things are best taken slow. But no one likes slower internet, especially if you are paying for high-speed, broadband internet service.
Many internet users expect speeds will occasionally dip, due to any number of factors, but the act of intentionally slowing internet speeds, done by your actual internet service provider (ISP) seems almost criminal. In fact, some have argued and fought against recent Net Neutrality rules that allow your ISP to do just that — slow down your web use, also known as internet throttling.
Internet throttling has gotten so bad, that Netflix has been in a quiet war with the ISP world. They went so far as to create their own internet speed testing tool: Fast.com. Their goal is to help you understand if your internet speeds match what they have promised and for what you pay for each month. Netflix has been one of the sites penalized in this throttling game; It is not a game, however.
Step 1: Read Your Internet Contract – Know What Speed You Pay For
Step 2: Do An Internet Speed Test
Have you noticed these sorts of things when surfing:
- Very slow speeds while watching or trying to load YouTube videos
- Your video streaming through Netflix or Hulu or Google Play take forever to load or buffer constantly (meaning your video stops and seems to be loading the next portion)
If you are having trouble with videos on YouTube or Netflix or even Spotify audio, you may want to start testing your internet speeds. Use the well-known Speedtest service (by Ookla). Is the tested speed close to your ISP’s promised internet speeds?
Step 3: Compare Your Internet Speed
After doing the first speed test, your benchmark, then use the Netflix speed test tool at Fast.com which is based, in part, on Netflix data (which helps sort if you have an ISP intentionally slowing down your connection) and compare.
Two Additional Ways To Check Your Internet Speed
Check out Wehe, a National Science Foundation project run out of Northeastern University in Boston. This massive research project did most of their publicly reported checks on mobile phone networks. Look up “Wehe” on Google Play or Apple App Store.
They also have a broadband testing tool at the Internet Health Test site (and you will also automatically contribute to a large scale computer science project) to help you see how data moves from your home (or office) through various servers and how quickly. It can give you an idea if ISPs are throttling your internet connection.
As the owner of YouTube, Google has a vested interest (understatement, much?) in making sure you get high quality YouTube videos and connections to those videos. They have a testing tool called the Google Video Quality Report which also does a terrific job of explaining how they move data around the world. After you open the site, there is a tab for a speed report for your area.
Step 4: Consider getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
I have been doing a special series for the Forbes Finds section and although I thought I knew a fair amount about internet security and protecting my data, I learned a ton. I have tested several VPNs and you can check out the start of the series: What Is A VPN? and How Does A VPN Work? More posts are coming, so I will try to update this post with links accordingly.
In a nutshell, a VPN can provide a secret tunnel between you and your destination sites like YouTube or Netflix so that your ISP cannot see where you are going. Not all VPNs are created equal, so do your research (or read my posts). It is also another way to comparison test your main internet connection.
I like the idea of Slow Food and Slow Travel as I said in the opening paragraph. But, I am definitely not a fan of slow internet, especially when I’m paying for high speed internet. I think you probably feel the same way. Use these tools and methods to keep tabs on your provider, keep abreast of Net Neutrality changes in your area, and do not settle for bad video speeds.