Throttling data speeds is one of the most annoying tools in a service provider’s box. These shenanigans occur when a data provider offers you a “limitless” data plan, but actually cut down your data speeds in a major way once you reach a certain data usage. Providers have received a ton of flak in recent years for create these invisible speed barriers and not letting customers know, but that hasn’t stopped various wireless carriers from throttling, with or without your knowledge. Read – Best Cell Phone Insurance for more information on cell phones?
Fortunately, there are ways that you can spot data throttling and call out your provider on it – or consider switching carriers. The easiest way is to wait and test your mobile Internet speeds at various times. This requires a bit of juggling, because you first have to watch your plan and see how much data you have used. Invisible throttling caps can occur anywhere between 3 and 7GB of data use, so you will have to test regularly during this window to spot any problems.
The speed tests themselves are simple. Just visit a speed test website or download a test app. There are several reliable options to choose from – Ookla’s SpeedTest is considered quite accurate and Ookla offers downloadable apps for major mobile platforms. However, you should need to match your tester with your carrier: For example, T-Mobile appears to have exempted Ookla speed tests from data caps to help disguise throttling activities, in which case you need to find another app to use.
Test several times in a row, first at the beginning of your monthly data cycle and second when you suspect you may have reached an invisible cap. Try to test at the same time each day, and in the same location. Average several Internet speeds together to get a more accurate number, and compare your findings. If you see a notable drop-off in data speed, then you may have a throttling problem.
Can you fix throttling? Well, calling up your carrier and complaining isn’t likely to do any good, but you do have some options. Throttling usually applies to unlimited plans, so by switching to a high data cap plan instead, you may be able to stop throttling issues.