What is Bandwidth/Data Throttling?

When shopping for high-speed internet service, many technical terms regularly pop up that can confuse the everyday internet user. Bandwidth, upload and download speeds, ping rate… the list goes on and on.

But one term appears all too frequently for users of certain kinds of internet—throttling. And it’s not something you want to experience. Fortunately, if you’re already using the advanced high-speed network of S&T, you’ll never have to experience it at all!

Below we detail what throttling is and why it is so commonplace among certain internet service providers. We also explain why you never have to worry about encountering it when you use our internet!

Throttling: The Basics

Let’s begin with what throttling is. Throttling occurs when your internet service provider (ISP) takes steps to intentionally limit your internet connection’s bandwidth or data, causing considerable slowdowns and a diminution in the quality and strength of the internet you use for streaming, video calls, browsing, gaming, and just about everything you do online.

Note the words “intentionally.” In other words, throttling is not the result of a technical glitch or extraordinary weather event.

With throttling, the sluggish internet is a result of the actual policy and intervention of the ISP to restrict your ability to use your internet more efficiently and with better quality at certain times of the day or month.

Some “high-speed internet” technologies and companies are more notorious for throttling than others. And some—like S&T—never do it at all. Below we dive a bit deeper to explain these distinctions.

Why Some Internet Providers Throttle Your Bandwidth and Data Every Month

First, it’s important to remember that high-speed internet providers and technologies are not all the same. Though many ISPs boast about their high speeds, inherent limitations and flaws in their technology make them less effective than more advanced technologies like fiber.

One of the most common reasons ISPs throttle your internet is that their plans include “shared bandwidth” in their packages. Having a plan with shared bandwidth means that your bandwidth is literally “shared” with other users and spread out—even rationed out—among many other customers.

Sharing bandwidth with other customers means you have less bandwidth capacity than with ISPs that do not ration out bandwidth. To accomplish this so-called sharing, some ISPs will throttle the bandwidths of their users at various times of the day or month or after a certain amount of data usage has already been met. Note that this is often related to a similar but different practice known as “data capping.”

Other technologies and ISPs throttle your bandwidth because their systems get too strained to handle the demand. For example, wireless or 5G internet providers are infamous for throttling customers’ internet. That’s largely because 5G is built for cellular phone service and has millions of customers using that signal for phone calls. Thus, there is an overwhelming strain on the 5G wireless signal to meet its original purpose!

To avoid overloading their signal and crashing their cell phone service (their primary function), 5G internet providers will throttle the internet at certain times of the day or month, reducing bandwidth and curtailing your ability to maintain a quality, reliable connection to the internet.

Bandwidth and data throttling is one of the most frustrating experiences an internet user can face. Pixilated imagery, distorted voices, and slow loading can aggravate even the most patient internet user. Fortunately, you don’t have to endure throttling frustrations!

Why Fiber Never Throttles Your Bandwidth and Data

Unlike most other kinds of internet, fiber never throttles your bandwidth. Why? Because it doesn’t have to!

Fiber technology is vastly superior to other forms of internet. Utilizing fiber optic cable, which consists of tightly compacted strands of fine glass hairs, fiber transmits data at nearly the speed of light. And its bandwidth capacity is enormous, allowing far more significant amounts of data to transmit at any particular second.

There simply is no need for fiber-based ISPs to intentionally slow down or hinder your internet. Compared to other forms of internet, fiber is heads and shoulders above the rest, delivering phenomenal speeds and bandwidth capacity.

Having examined what throttling is and why some internet technologies and ISPs need to use it to keep up with demand, it should be clear that fiber is your best choice for high-speed internet. Should you have any other questions, the friendly experts at S&T are available to help you.

And to learn more about our fiber network and how it can help keep you better connected and more productive, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!