Have you ever noticed web content performing poorly out of the blue? Video footage becomes blurry. Web pages take longer to load.
If so, your internet service provider might be slowing down your data on purpose. It’s known as “throttling,” and it’s a way for a provider to ease congested network traffic.
But when one type of network traffic—say, video streaming—is throttled more than another, this is called differentiation. And according toDave Choffnes, assistant professor of computer and information science at Northeastern, differentiation is also “what most people would refer to as a net neutrality violation.”
Working with a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Choffnes confirmed a sneaking suspicion: “Nearly every U.S. cell provider is doing throttling.”
Using a previously established, peer-reviewed technique, the team conducted more than half a million data traffic tests across 161 countries. From this data, the team found that internet service providers are “giving a fixed amount of bandwidth—typically something in the range of one and a half megabits per second to four megabits per second—to video traffic, but they don’t impose these limits on other network traffic.”
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