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Is your ISP pulling a Volkswagen on you?

VW Deathstar ISP

Internet speeds of 50 or Mbps are a common appearance today in the developed part of the world. For example, an average internet speed in South Korea is more than 25 Mbps, but if we take into account the rest of the world as well, the average speed plummets down to 5.6 Mbps. This is not so bad, given that an average user’s needs include browsing and social media networking. However, there tends to be a huge gap between internet speeds on paper and the one you operate with in reality. The reason is your ISP and there have been documented cases of ISP’s delivering speeds which are below the rates you agreed upon. How can this happen?

The suspicion

If by an off chance you notice that your download or upload speeds are not in sync with the speeds in your contract, the first step would be to take an internet speed test in order to confirm your suspicions. Mind you, more often than not the cause will not be your ISP, but rather multiple users on your end, weak WiFi signal or a bad connection configuration within your device. The problem could also be located on the server you are downloading from.

By taking internet speed test you will be able to either confirm your suspicion or pinpoint the source of the problem.

The right tools

Not all speed test work the same and if you have alleviated the suspicion from your equipment, the only way to find out is your ISP “taking you for a fool” is to use proper speed measurement tools. In a post on myce.com, Seán Byrne explains everything in detail with a step by step guide he created by helping his friend with a problematic ISP.

High speed internet

The short version of the story is that the ISPs caught inflating speeds were using internet port 8080 to conduct the speed tests, thus not straining the ports that are usually used for internet communication – 80 and 443. Port 8080 is not used for standard communication and is not available for use to 99% of the thing you do online, thus not reflecting the bandwidth you actually get from your ISP.

Read More: 6 obvious reasons why you should replace your ISP’s router

For example, if you are taking speed test through the port 8080 and are watching a video or holding a VoIP call, there will be no stuttering of the video or interference with the call quality. On the other hand, if you were to use standard ports for measurement you would see a drastic decrease in call quality, as well as increased buffering time of your video.

What next?

If you think you might be a victim of ISP fraud, check your facts before making any unsubstantiated accusations. Follow the instructions from myce.com post to the letter and if your suspicions turn out to be right, take your complaint to the ISP. Though this might be a quixotic battle, the good thing about the competitive business world today is that there is always an alternative. Should your ISP deny your accusations and refuse to help you with the matter in question, it is easy to change your provider. Even if you are bound with a contract, there should be a clause enabling you to break it off if you are not getting the quality of the service you were promised.

Marcus is an Australian IT support professional. He’s running his own business, working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.

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