Are you experiencing slow Wi-Fi? It may be caused by internet restriction. How to tell it

Internet restriction is real, but a VPN can be a solution.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Slow internet speeds can be due to a number of things. Your router could be obsolete or it could be too far away from e.g. your TV or computer. These fixes can be as easy as restart your modem and router or upgrade to a mesh network. But another reason for your slow Wi-Fi may be bandwidth gassing. As a result of 2019 Supreme Court decision refuses to hear a call for net neutrality, ISPs can still legally strangle your internet, limits your broadband if you are streaming more tv than they want and serve slower links to sites owned by their competitors.

One solution for slow Wi-Fi if it’s actually caused by internet restriction – is it a virtual private network. Basically, ISPs need to see your IP address to slow down your internet, and one good VPN will protect this identity – even if it comes with some limitations and disadvantages, which I will discuss below.

The reason for your sluggish Wi-Fi connection may be somewhat simpler; maybe you just need to reposition your router or need to add one Wi-Fi range. We’ll walk you through how to tell you if gas regulation is to blame and if not what to do to fix your fragile Wi-Fi.

Read more: 11 ways to make your Wi-Fi faster

Read more: The best Wi-Fi extender for almost everyone


First, troubleshoot your slow internet connection

So your Wi-Fi is slow and you think your service provider is interfering with your connection. Before jumping to these conclusions, it is important to run through the usual troubleshooting list: Make sure your router is centrally located in your home, relocate its antennas, double check your network security, and so on. To read more ways to optimize your Wi-Fi, see our suggestions.

If you have run through the laundry list and your Wi-Fi is still chugging, go to the next step.


Test your internet speed

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET


Find a reliable VPN



Compare your speed with VPN

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Then test your internet speed somewhere or Compare the results with the same test when your VPN is active. Using any VPN should significantly reduce your speed, so speed tests should show a discrepancy where the VPN active speed is particularly slower than the VPN inactive speed. But a VPN also hides the IP address that providers use to identify you, so if your VPN speed test is faster than without a VPN, it may mean that your ISP is targeting your IP address for restriction.

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

OK, this is the hard part. Even if you find that your provider is interfering with your internet, there may not be much you can actually do. Many people in the United States live in regions with ISP monopolies or duopolies, so you may not be able to find a better provider. But here are a few helpful answers:

  • If you do have options, use the best provider in your area. Measurement laboratory provides a good resource for finding information that is specific to your region and that can guide you to a more reliable ISP.
  • Use your VPN to maintain more consistent speeds. A VPN may not solve a bad connection or other reasons behind your slow service, but it can alleviate suffocation from unscrupulous ISPs.
  • Call your provider and threaten to switch provider if they do not stop pushing your internet. This may seem old-fashioned and I can not guarantee lasting results, but providers have responded positively to such tactics once I have used them.

Read more about best VPNs to use while working from home, that fastest VPNsand VPNs you can try for free before you buy. And here they are best high speed internet providers. Plus, how to find the best free wi-fi if you can not connect at home and what internet speed do you really need?

Correction, 10 February 2020: This article previously assigned the Net Neutrality Decision 2019 to the Supreme Court, rather than the DC Circuit Court, which decided the case. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

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