What is ISP bandwidth throttling, exactly?
Throttling is when an internet service provider (ISP) intentionally slows down your internet based on what you’re trying to watch.
With the rise of streaming video services like Netflix and HBO Go that demand high bandwidth, ISPs have begun inspecting your data and restricting your download speed if they detect packets from those services. ISPs claim this is to reduce congestion on their networks, but the truth is more complicated.
Bandwidth throttling hurts customers
Some ISPs already have the capability to handle the extra data but choose to throttle content providers’ traffic because it competes with their own streaming content libraries. Some ISPs have forced Netflix to pay a fee to escape throttling, allowing the ISP to avoid paying for much-needed upgrades. Lack of competition among ISPs and broadband providers means that companies can even get away with overcharging customers for faster internet.
What is peering?
Peering is when two ISPs connect and exchange traffic. Mutually beneficial under normal circumstances, peering causes problems when a popular streaming service (such as Netflix) forces one ISP to exceed the agreed traffic ratio, prompting the other one to ignore congestion and refuse to make adjustments.
That means you could be denied the internet speeds you paid for simply because your ISP refuses to resolve a peering conflict with another company.