Internet Service Providers have long been accused by customers that they use all sorts of tricks to throttle down their Internet speeds. To do so, an ISP can allegedly make use of a variety of tricks, such as firewalls, traffic shapers, censors, and redirectors to manipulate and degrade your internet traffic. And with the rise of mobile devices, wireless carriers stand accused of the same guilt.
If this is the case and your ISP or carrier is resort to such ugly tactics, then chances are you won’t even realize throttling or degradation was even taking place. Thus, you need to be more aware of what’s happening and for that you can use a couple of tools and apps to see just how honest your Internet access provider is.
Internet Health Test
One of easiest tools to use is the ‘Internet Health Test‘ by Battle for the Net. As per the new Net Neutrality rules, ISPs are prohibited from blocking or throttling any website, but it’s pretty hard for consumers to realize that they are doing this. And that’s the purpose of this test – to check if your connection shows signs of any degradation. Just follow the link, click to start the test and it will open open in a new pop-up window.
However, you need to know beforehand that it seems to be showing more features for US-based users; and if you’re trying to access it from a different part of the world, your location won’t be quite accurate. I live in Bucharest, Romania and it was showing Belgrade, Serbia and for my colleague Raju who lives in Bangalore, India, it was showing Bangkok, Thailand. Nonetheless, it still manages to show the consistency of your test, and alerts you of any performance degradation.
The test uses Measurement Lab (M-Lab) infrastructure and code, and it’s supposed to be a tool with a better looking user-interface. But you can still use the old Glasnot test, if you want to. Of course, if you are looking for more tests, there are many others that you can find here.
Ookla’s Speed Test
If you suspect that it is your wireless carrier who might be using shady tactics, then you need to test if unlimited data plan is really unlimited. For that, to the rescue comes an app from perhaps the world’s most know website when it comes to testing your net speeds – speedtest.net. So, if you want to find out if your wireless carrier is cutting back your plan and just how much, you need to take the following steps, as Cnet advises:
- Download Ookla’s free Speed Test app for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices
- Use the app to run a couple of tests from various locations at the beginning of your billing cycle
- After you will have consumed a consistent amount of data, say 5GB or so (which could usually be the allotment set by the carrier), the run all of the speed tests in the same location and at the same time of day, in order to minimize any external factors that might affect data speed.
- Thus, if your data speed decreases after a while (after you will have passed the limit), then you will be able to compare by how much
Usually, when customers buy unlimited data plans for their mobile device, they aren’t always told that the contract includes a ‘fair usage’ policy, which accounts for false advertising, nonetheless. For more advanced details regarding your network coverage and other details, you can also check out the MobiPerf app, as well, and you can also have a look at this detailed guide on how you can avoid tour carrier’s data throttling on your Android device.