How to stop AT&T throttling [Bypass & VPN guide]

Elena Constantinescu
by Elena Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Elena started writing professionally in 2010 and hasn't stopped exploring the tech world since. With a firm grasp of software reviewing and content editing, she is always trying new things to improve her skill... Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • AT&T has been known for throttling the bandwidth of its customers, even on unlimited data plans that normally shouldn't have such limitations.
  • If you want to easily stop these limitations, lift bandwidth restrictions, and increase your Internet speed, use a VPN.
  • Virtual Private Network software can prevent your ISP from accessing your traffic data, hence not allowing it to place any restrictions.
  • Not only can the suggestions below stop throttling, but they can also surpass geo-restrictions and find the best server location to boost your gaming. 
how to stop ATT throttling

AT&T is the world’s largest telecom provider of mobile and fixed telephone services. It also facilitates Internet services. Unfortunately, the ISP is also known for throttling the bandwidth.

AT&T was fined by the FTC for throttling so-called unlimited data plans without disclosing this matter.

If you happen to be one of these unsatisfied customers and if you’re considering changing your ISP, try using a VPN to stop AT&T throttling first.

Not all virtual private network services are fit for the job, though, so you should take the time to explore your options.

Or you can go with our recommendations since we’ve tested countless VPN apps.

Although there are free VPNs you can use, we’re against them because they are either filled with adware, collect and share your data with marketing agencies, or both. Instead, a premium VPN is worth it.

Check out the step-by-step instructions below to see how to successfully bypass AT&T throttling with a VPN.

What is network throttling?

The practice of throttling your internet bandwidth is the process through which your ISP (internet service provider) limits the speed of your connection.

This usually happens for a few reasons which we will discuss further:

  • Surpassing the data packet you paid for

As you might expect, if your contract with the ISP mentions a specific network data cap, then, as soon as you reach it, your internet connection will become increasingly slower over time.

This is a tactic used by ISPs to persuade users to renew the data packet with their company. From this perspective, it would make sense that the internet connection is limited after reaching the cap mentioned in the contract.

That being said, depending on the ISP company, throttling is used sometimes even while paying for a so-called unlimited internet plan. ISP’s engage this procedure whenever your data transfer reaches a certain soft cap, which is not fixed, but dependant on your location, internet connection type, and surge in the network data processing.

  • The ISP wants to stop you from accesesing certain online resources

For you to be able to access certain streaming services or download large files through a torrent client, your internet connections need to be running at a certain speed.

By using the process of throttling, your ISP reduces the amount of data that can be transferred at once through their network, and thus, stop you from using the services mentioned above.

  • The ISP’s network is used by a large amount of people at once

Bandwidth throttling also happens if the ISP observes that their network can’t deal with the number of people using their connection at the same time.

As ISPs have a limited amount of bandwidth to share amongst users, if a surge in traffic happens, the speed at which you will be able to stream and download content will be reduced to accommodate all users.

How do I know if my bandwidth is being throttled?

To check if your bandwidth is being throttled, you should start by checking the contract you have with AT&T, and read the stipulations regarding your connection’s data caps, and bandwidth limits.

Once you have this information, simply test the internet connection speed by using an online tool like Speedtest.net.

All you need to do is to visit the website and click the GO button appearing on the screen.

As soon as you do, the website will start analyzing your internet connection, and you will get a set of results at the end that will look something like this:

Comparing the Download and Upload values found after the speed test with the values mentioned in your AT&T contract will show you if throttling is active or not on your case.

If you find that throttling is being used, it is recommended that you first check if the data cap on your AT&T contract has not been reached.

In case you still have data available for usage, then it is possible to conclude that the ISP is limiting your bandwidth for one of the reasons mentioned previously.

To avoid this problem, good VPN software will do the trick, by not allowing the ISP to observe how you’re using the bandwidth, and thus, limit their capability to engage this protocol.

Can a VPN help with throttling?

A powerful VPN software will help with the AT&T throttling issue, but not all software in this category can do this successfully.

Capable VPN software will effectively change your IP address, and thus stop the ISP’s processes from identifying if you’re using the data to download torrents, or simply access a streaming service that they don’t condone.

That being said, if the throttling from AT&T happens because you reached your data cap, VPN software will not be able to do much. Even if your IP address will be changed, and your ISP will not know who you are or where you live exactly, the internet connection will still be throttled until you renew your data packet subscription.

How do I stop AT&T throttling and data slowing down?

  1. Sign up for premium VPN (we recommend PIA)
  2. Download and set up PIA on your device.
  3. Run the app and login into your account.
  4. Select the VPN Server button.
  5. Click on Choose automatically.
  6. Press the big power button to connect to the VPN server.
  7. Try accessing the previoulsy-restricted online resource.

Is it legal for AT&T to throttle your internet traffic?

Yes. AT&T’s throttling policy is following the law in the USA regarding all internet traffic being treated roughly in the same way.

This situation is caused by the FCC under the Trump Administration which repealed the Open Internet Order, and also the regulation enforced by the Obama Administration which allows ISPs to discriminate users based on a variety of factors like service type, content, the device used, etc.

Even if that’s the case, AT&T’s policies do not engage in any sort of discriminatory actions in regards to their users, but they are fully within their rights to do so.

Is there other VPN software that can help with throttling?

If you already made sure that your ISP’s data cap hasn’t been reached, then there are a few other software options that can help you with this endeavor.

As you might expect, all of them will work without problems when it comes to AT&T throttling.

NordVPN

Private Internet Access (PIA)

Surfshark

CyberGhost VPN

VyprVPN

If you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into this comparison, feel free to explore an in-depth list of the best VPNs for the AT&T U-verse, researched by the security and privacy experts at VPN Central.

As you can see, throttling applied by ISPs can happen for a variety of reasons, and will severely impact the internet speed for browsing, but also stop you from accessing streaming services like Netflix, and from downloading torrents.

Luckily, using a powerful VPN can be of help in case your ISP bandwidth cap hasn’t been reached, and we discussed some of the best options available on the market.

Feel free to share your experience with us by using the comment section below.

Your connection is not secure - websites you visit can find out your details:

  • Your IP
  • Your IP Address:
    34.138.214.39

Companies can sell this information, alongside your location and internet provider name, and profit from it by serving targeted ads or monitoring your data usage.

Use a VPN to protect your privacy and secure your connection.

We recommend Private Internet Access, a VPN with a no-log policy, open source code, ad blocking and much more; now 79% off.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, AT&T is slowing down your Internet. The company discloses that even unlimited data plans might be throttled during peak hours. But you can fix network congestion with a VPN.

  • Run a speed test with and without a VPN. If your speed is better while staying connected to the VPN, then AT&T might be throttling your bandwidth.

  • Internet throttling isn’t illegal if it’s disclosed by the ISP.

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