Internet throttling seems to be a common practice amongst ISPs. No matter how many promises they make on paper, this seems like a vice that most are not ready to let go. A common trick that ISPs implement is to let you enjoy the connectivity for the first few days or weeks following the installation. Whereas you had access to rural high-speed Internet in the early days, things quickly change after a short while. You begin noticing that your Netflix videos buffer and may not even access some sites. That is when you know you are a victim of the dreaded throttling. Can we ever have a genuinely unthrottled Internet?
About Internet throttling
Internet throttling entails intentionally slowing down your speeds contrary to what you pay. Most ISPs often take this measure in reaction to increased traffic. During peak hours, the demand for their service can be too high that some people get locked out from accessing the Internet.
Using a throttled Internet implies that you have a slow connection. ISPs notorious for this practice argue that it is better to grant slow speeds than completely cut you off the Internet. Their idea is that you should remain connected even if the experience is undesired.
To best understand Internet throttling, you can view it from the same perspective as rolling brownouts in electrical utility when there is a peak in electrical demand. Rolling brownout alleviates needs that can cause the entire power grid to go down. Internet Service Providers do present the same argument when implementing throttling.
The Legality of Throttling
Regulatory bodies such as the FCC frowns upon bandwidth throttling. However, their hands are tied when it comes to cracking down on ISPs known for the practice.
For instance, the FCC published several rules in 2011 aimed at preserving a free and open Internet. In the rules, the regulatory body pronounced that ISPs must not hinder access to lawful content. Furthermore, the providers ought to refrain from discriminating in the transmission of lawful network traffic.
However, these rules were reversed in 2014 by a Washington D.C. Circuit Court. The court ruling was that service providers could not be classified under common carriers. As such, the FCC does not have the authority to enforce Network Neutrality on them. The ruling returned all the stakeholders to the drawing board as they sought better ways to go about the issue.
As per the legality of Internet throttling, it is entirely dependent on whom you ask. There are no clearly-defined rules that mention the practice. That leaves end-users at the mercy of ISPs. A notorious ISP that does not care about customer experience can repeatedly perform it.
Establishing an Unthrottled Internet
The possibility of getting truly unlimited data without throttling seems like a far-fetched idea, but it is possible. To tackle this, we need first to address the very reason why some Internet Service Providers find it hard to provide unlimited data no throttling. Since their networks sometimes get congested, there is a need to further investments in existing infrastructure. The input would mean current systems can accommodate more users. Thus, no need to reduce the speeds of any.
The repeal of Net Neutrality rules seems to have fostered throttling. Such laws help protect end-users. As ISPs, we are responsible for improving the quality of service, even if that means abiding by strict regulatory rules.
The move towards 5G cannot be ignored when discussing throttling. Experts argue that 5G networking would mitigate the need for throttling soon. These arguments are based on the fact that 5G provides higher bandwidth, making it possible to handle large amounts of data consumption. As we look into the future and ready ourselves for increased innovations in the Internet service provision domain, we can expect throttling to be a thing of the past.