For now, the Net Neutrality fight in the U.S. is effectively over. By law, ISPs like Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) can freely throttle your internet speeds without consequence. If you’re noticing more speed drops than you should be while using Time Warner’s cable internet service, you might be getting throttled. There is a solution, however. This guide will walk you through how to stop Time Warner from stream your internet speed.
What is Throttling?
“Throttling” is the term we use when an ISP purposely slows down a user’s internet speed. As the name suggests, the ISP will “throttle” a user’s download speed by reducing that user’s amount of available bandwidth.
As a result, you’ll find movies stream in lower quality, online games start lagging more often, and downloads take much longer. Depending on how much throttling is occurring, you may find that you can no longer stream videos without buffering, for example, or your video chats start experiencing a disconnect between the visual and the audio feedback.
Time Warner may also be throttling your data just for using certain websites and services. Video streaming sites like Netflix tend to require a lot of data, especially if you’re trying to streaming HD or UHD. Time Warner may automatically throttle your connection to Netflix and other sites, reducing your effective bandwidth to that site only. As a result, you won’t be able to stream in high definition.
This guide will show you how to install and use a VPN to get past Time Warner’s internet speed throttling. We’ll also look more into why throttling occurs, what the end of Net Neutrality means for more potential speed throttling, Time Warner’s policy on internet speed throttling, and a few additional tips that you can use to help increase your internet speeds.
How to Use a VPN to Stop Internet Throttling
VPNs are increasingly maligned in the news media. However, most businesses and universities have been utilizing virtual private networks for decades. These allow remote workers, professors, and students to access secure servers and computers, making work possible from a distance.
VPNs are not only fully legal; they’re growing in popularity for consumers who want to take control over their internet browsing habits and privacy. Additionally, VPNs are coming down in price while increasing in the number of available features that can enhance your online experience and security.
How VPNs Work
Normally, when accessing websites and services online, your computer is directly connected to a server hosting that site or service. For example, if you connect to Netflix from your web browser, phone, or Roku, those devices are directly connected to Netflix’s servers. Your ISP can easily see that connection, as it’s serving as the gateway.
However, when you connect to a virtual private network, your connection first goes through a private tunnel, connecting you to one of many VPN servers. From there, you connect to whichever site or service you wish. The server acts as a separate gateway to the rest of the internet.
From your ISP’s perspective, you’re connected to a server they may or may not be able to identify, but that’s all they can see. They cannot identify any of your online activity and cannot determine what data is passing between you and the VPN server.
Any data passing between you and the VPN’s server is heavily encrypted, making it both secure and functionally hack-free.
What a VPN Won’t Do
If you’re using a data-limited internet service plan, a VPN will not stop your throttling. A VPN can hide your connection and what sites you’re using, but it cannot hide how much data you’re using. If Time Warner has a limit on how much data you can use and triggers throttling after you’ve exceeded that limit, there’s currently no effective way to stop throttling from occurring.
However, if you are getting throttled due to the sites you’re using, a VPN will work for you. So if Time Warner is trying to stem your access to video streaming sites like Netflix, or file sharing services like BitTorrent, a VPN will prevent your ISP from putting the clamp on your speeds.
Since they may be trying to throttle even fully legal and legitimate uses of different websites, a VPN will give you back the freedom to use the web in the way you want to. It will also help ensure you’re maintaining the speeds you’re paying to receive.
Our Pick: IPVanish
Among the many VPN options available, the best we’ve found is IPVanish. Due to its mixture of features, privacy protections, server options, and high speeds, we believe that IPVanish is the best option to stop Time Warner’s cable internet throttling.
IPVanish Hides You From ISPs
For those attempting to stop ISP throttling, IPVanish offers unique solutions. The service utilizes end-to-end encryption through a private data tunnel. Once you connect to an IPVanish server, you’ll be assigned a new IP address. From there, you’ll be able to access any website without any trace back to you.
And because your tunnel is completely encrypted and completely private, your ISP will not be able to determine what sites you’re using. IPVanish utilizes military-grade encryption, so even if your ISP is using software to detect the use of a VPN, it cannot crack the encryption to determine what data is passing between you and your IPVanish server.
There are a lot of VPN services out there, so performance matters. How do we measure performance for a VPN service? Connection speed and availability of servers.
On both ends, IPVanish outperforms its competitors. IPVanish provides consistently fast servers in over 850 locations across the globe.
One major consequence of using any VPN service is that you’ll notice a drop in speed. This is because the added layers of protection result in your data passing through more filters, ultimately lowering your speed. However, IPVanish is one of the few VPN services that can help you maintain most of your speed. IPVanish helps you maintain speed by incorporating different technologies, including smart VPN locators, and fast VPN protocols.
And since congestion is a major issue with smaller services, the large number of available servers will clear up potential server crowding issues. If you find a server has too many other users, IPVanish has enough available servers to ensure you can quickly and easily move to the best one.
IPVanish is an extremely low-cost option for consumers. Packages start at $10/month, but you’ll find significant discounts if you sign up for a 3-month or 1-year subscription plan. You’ll be able to receive up to 46% off using those options, reducing your effective payment to $6.49 per month.
You’ll also be able to try IPVanish with a zero-commitment, 7-day money-back guarantee from that company. That will give you enough time to assess whether IPVanish effectively bypasses Time Warner’s internet throttling.
How do I Test My Internet Speed?
There are multiple sites available that will allow you to test your internet speed. The most popular one is Speedtest.net, but it might not be the best one for you. In fact, your best option may be to use any internet speed testing service that uses Google’s Measurement Lab (M-Lab) to also test internet congestion.
We suggest using the Internet Health Test to test for both congestion and speed issues. It uses M-Lab, and in 2015 found that multiple ISPs, including Time Warner Cable, were indeed throttling customers’ access to certain sites like Netflix.
Running the test is easy. Simply load up the website and hit “Start”.
After the test is finished, you’ll have your average speed. The speed is calculated using multiple servers across the internet to get a more accurate assessment of whether your internet is currently “healthy.”
However, if you do just want a simple speed test. Speedtest.net does give you good, quick feedback on your download and upload speeds, as well as your ping.
Additional speed testing options include Google’s built-in speed tester (just search “internet speed test” on Google) and Fast.com, an internet speed testing service from Netflix.
Why is My Timer Warner Internet Slow?
Despite popular belief, not all throttling is necessarily your ISP violating net neutrality. Some of the speed throttling that does occur has a functional purpose.
Here are a few reasons why Time Warner may be throttling your speeds:
Internet Rush Hour
During what’s known as “Internet Rush Hour,” you’ll likely find a slow down in your internet speed. This is because your ISP only has a certain amount of bandwidth available for everyone. During off-peak hours, such as 2 AM to 6 AM, or in the middle of the day, there are far fewer people engaging in data-heavy activities like HD streaming. However, once everyone gets off of work and head home, the Internet Rush Hour begins. Congestion on an ISPs network can get pretty heavy during that time.
Just as with highway traffic, the more people there are on the roads, the slower everyone goes. To prevent bandwidth traffic jam, ISPs tend to reduce everyone’s available bandwidth. This prevents everyone one from using a large amount of data and slowing everything down.
If you’re already on a low-speed plan, you may not notice a difference. However, even in those cases, you may find your speeds reduced rather significantly.
Heavy Usage and Video Streaming
Another reason you may be getting throttled is that you’re a heavy data user. Many ISPs will secretly throttle anyone who streams video from certain websites, particularly Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or others. And especially with the take-off of over-the-air video streaming, Time Warner and others are finding that their infrastructure cannot handle the increased amount of high-definition and heavy data usage.
Instead of upgrading their infrastructure more rapidly, they’ve often tended toward throttling customer speeds. In the U.S., previously-enacted Net Neutrality rules prevented ISPs from surreptitiously throttling data, forcing them to treat all forms of internet traffic as the same.
Attempts to Access Certain Websites
As discussed earlier, Time Warner may be throttling your attempts to access different websites. This type of behavior is a major concern for Net Neutrality advocates who believe that all internet traffic should be treated the same, regardless of the source. The loss of Net Neutrality rules by the recently means that we can expect more of this throttling to occur.
Exceeding Data Limits
We also mentioned earlier that you might be on a data-limited plan. Most of Time Warner’s (Spectrum’s) cable internet plans are offered with no data cap. In fact, in 2016, after Time Warner merged with Charter to form the new Spectrum company, the Federal Communications Commission gave them 7-year ban on data caps.
However, that ban on data caps just means they can’t charge you for excess data usage. It does not mean Time Warner can’t slow you down after you exceed a certain amount. If you notice your internet speeds seem to be consistently slower than what you’re paying for, especially at the end of the month, you might be hitting silent data caps.
Slow Speeds Outside of Throttling
If speed throttling doesn’t seem to be your problem, there are likely other issues involved. These could include:
- Old equipment, such as an old modem, wireless router, or computer.
- Regular network congestion (internet rush hour, or other congestion)
- Too many devices connected to your home network at one time
- Interference with your wifi signal
Some of these are issues you can easily fix as well. If you’re using an old computer, for example, you will likely find that upgrading to a newer computer will result in better speeds. Not only is this because a newer computer will likely use a better wifi adapter, but it may also have more processing power. Processing speed on your computer can have an impact on how fast you can load websites and services, giving off the appearance of a slow internet connection and throttling.
Additionally, an old wireless router or an old modem will not be updated to the newest technology standards. As such, upgrading this equipment, especially if it’s more than five years old, will result in better speeds.
And while you may like to have your wireless router hidden to preserve the aesthetic appeal of your home, you could be limiting your internet speeds. Wifi signals are fast-moving radio signals and can be impacted by walls and metal objects. To get the best results out of your wireless router, keep it centrally located and out in the open.
As for too many devices connected to your router, you may want to consider turning off or disconnecting any that you’re not using. This is a growing problem, especially with the “internet of things” or IoT becoming more popular. If you’re running a lot of smart home devices, you’re going to experience a significant drain on your available bandwidth, especially with DIY home security setups that include multiple HD cameras.
Furthermore, if you live in an urban or dense suburban neighborhood, there are likely a large number of wireless signals bouncing around. These could be interfering with your wireless signal, causing a major reduction in your internet speeds. One way to fix this problem is to change your wireless router channel to channels 1, 6 or 11. These channels have far less overlap with other channels, resulting in better results and less interference.
If a VPN or other solutions don’t work to speed up your internet, however, you may need to call your ISP. There’s a chance talking to them directly about your speed issues could clear up some of the issues you’re having. If that fails, of course, you can try to jump ship and move to another provider (if you are lucky enough to have multiple options, that is).
Sam Cook is a full-time content strategist by day, a part-time freelance content writer since 2015. In another life, he was a high school English teacher for nearly a decade. Based in sunny New Orleans, he writes long-form educational content on technology, including Insurtech, Fintech, HRtech, and content streaming. He loves whittling down complex ideas within these areas that make decisions easier for buyers. When he’s not reading books with his son Miles and playing video games with the family, you can find him immersed in his growing collection of Euro-style board games.
Thank you for this I information. I thought I was going crazy.
I signed up for Spectrum with a special
and they are refusing to honor the
special and charging me outlandish
prices and seems to be nothing I can do
I’ve complained all of the way up to their
Corporate office and reported this
company only to find out that many
others have done the same with no one
being able to resolve any of their wrong
i dont kno if you ever got resolved or not. future ref when you have issue that cant be solved with a company call the state attorney general’s office
Great information. very clear and easy to understand. We have Spectrum and have noticed on weekends the streaming of shows from netflix and amazon prime can often stop for buffering and sometimes not even work. I’ll try the VPN and see what happens.
did you try the vpn? if so, have you seen a difference while using amazon prime apps/streaming networks?
VPN are great, but i just change my external IP so i get less hops and still have privacy. Its like the same thing. Make sure to not have leaking DNS.
I noticed after transferring more than 2.5 TB of data in 2 months Spectrum will throttle your speeds. with me it was 400 meg download I was paying for, yet only getting 9.2 mb download and 9.2 updload ,after 2 days of dial up speeds. I figured out a 3 min fix, it is to plug your laptop directly into the spectrum modem then reset the modem, all bypassing the Router. That way Spectrum modem will notice a new MAC address and change your external IP address.
Once I did a speed test once my external IP changed I instantly got 100 mbps download and 9.2 upload. Then I spoofed the Original Netgear routers MAC address.
Low and behold now its getting the 423 meg original speeds.
In conclusion Spectrum was throttling my speeds because I download too much data and hit a throttle cap. Spectrum wants the dumb customer to have a technician come visit. just so they have to pay money for a bogus visit. and make the customer they are stupid and dumb because all a tech does is that. That is manipulation at its best…. shame on spectrum for don’t this to people especially for me 10 days the holidays.