I think Time Warner Cable is Throttling and Shaping My Bandwidth

I’m not sure if this is a conspiracy or possibly due to a plan I have. (I’ll call them to find out.)

But I’ve long suspected Time Warner is screwing with my bandwidth.

The first test I ran was “ShaperProbe traffic shaping test“.

This test looks to see if, after a certain amount of time, your ISP slows down your traffic.

Sure enough, they do!

Here are the finds of my test:

DiffProbe beta release. October 2009. Build 1002.

Shaper Detection Module.

Connected to server

Estimating capacity:

Upstream: 494 Kbps.

Downstream: 13982 Kbps.

The measurement will take upto 3.0 minutes. Please wait.

Checking for traffic shapers:

Upstream: No shaper detected.

Median received rate: 448 Kbps.

Downstream: Burst size: 9443-9755 KB;

Shaping rate: 6850 Kbps.

So, this is the summary:
Upstream: No shaper detected.Median received rate: 448 Kbps.
Downstream: Burst size: 9443-9755 KB;Shaping rate: 6850 Kbps.

I can apparently upload stuff all day long at about 448 Kbps. But downloading is a different story.

Just to check, I ran the test again and got virtually the exact same results:

Estimating capacity:

Upstream: 443 Kbps.

Downstream: 11531 Kbps.

Checking for traffic shapers:

Upstream: No shaper detected.

Median received rate: 448 Kbps.

Downstream: Burst size: 9384-9581 KB;
Shaping rate: 6850 Kbps.

This seems very telling to me because if you notice, my downstream capacity was a little different in each test. 13982 Kbps in test #1 and 11531 Kbps in test #2. But the shaped rate was totally identical! 6850 Kbps on both tests.

This looks very controlled to me.

Next, I REALLY wanted to run the Glasnost test. But they are doing maintenance on their servers this weekend. Figures!

This test checks to see if they are throttling specific kinds of traffic. I have a theory Time Warner is killing me with Youtube traffic. I can’t stream anything in my house. I first thought maybe this was because of my home network. My router is on the third floor and I’m currently on the first floor. But I recently installed a repeater. I get poor streaming capabilities no matter where I am in the house.

I’m not a file sharing person. I am just trying to watch freakin’ Youtube videos!

From this CNET article:

I asked Dudley a simple question: “Does Time Warner Cable throttle that 5 percent of major network users?”

He simply said that his company does not comment on that and users should consult their use agreement to see exactly what Time Warner could do if it sees people using too much bandwidth.

I have to say, I’m a little concerned about posting this. I suspect they could just turn me off all together. Fortunately, I have a DSL option. But who knows if that’s good.

We, in this supposedly uber-capitalistic country, are being seriously squeezed by our Internet providers.

From this NYT article:

Competition, or the lack of it, goes a long way to explaining why the fees are higher in the United States. There is less competition in the United States than in many other countries. Broadband already has the highest profit margins of any product cable companies offer. Like any profit-maximizing business would do, they set prices in relation to other providers and market demand rather than based on costs.

Cell phone and Internet costs a lot less is many other places in the world. We just live in this haze of “America is the best” mentality. It is shocking to even suggest that maybe some other country has anything better than us.

From the NYT article above:

Pretty much the fastest consumer broadband in the world is the 160-megabit-per-second service offered by J:Com, the largest cable company in Japan. Here’s how much the company had to invest to upgrade its network to provide that speed: $20 per home passed.

We are are just getting squeezed for every penny the market will bare. We can’t forget that capitalism is all about getting the most money as you possibly can for something. Competition is supposed to be the great leveler in the system. But with Internet service we simply don’t have major competition… yet.

The holy grail in the U.S. right now is Verizon’s FiOS. The user community pretty much gives it the best rating of all ISP’s out there. They say they don’t throttle connection right on their site:

No throttling
Some high speed Internet service providers will resort to “throttling,” or slowing down your Internet connection if they decide your usage is too heavy. Verizon doesn’t. FiOS is consistently, blazingly fast.

I don’t know how up to date this site is, but they say FiOS currently in 16 states but have plans to come to all 28 states they have other services in.

I honestly feel like I live in China or some place. Except instead of the government controlling us, the large monopolistic corporations are controlling us.

With that, I’m going to start a personal petition to get Verizon to move FiOS to Ohio.

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  1. Buddy

    Check out Alvarion technology. It requires absolutely no infrastructure except the modules. Buy internet from ANY cellphone tower and wirelessly support your customers. Might start your own business and run competition.

    • sage

      Wow. That’s a cool tip. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  2. chrisd

    In my area there is something called Roadrunner Turbo with Powerboost. Good luck trying to find out the actual expected bandwidth on their website. I had to start up a chat with a representative to find out. It is supposed to be .75 Mbps up and *up to* 15.0 Mbps down. They do not give a minimum expected bandwidth, and I’m stuck with only getting 10% of the download speed maximum. This is no different than what I was getting before I upgraded! This is bad business, and if there were other providers in my area I would *meep* *meep* to them so fast it would make TW’s head spin.

    I’ll run a speed test every day for this month at several times and then pay them my bill minus the bandwidth I’m missing. It’s only fair right?

    • sage

      This is a really shady business practice. I think if people knew what was happening they would not be happy.
      Thanks for writing!

  3. Kimbakat

    I had upgraded to RoadRunner Turbo also..they downloads is only 2.35 Mbps and upload .54 Mbps from an independent speed test site..their OWN speed test site OF COURSE gives me different and only slightly faster results. Their answer..Reboot the modem.. That’s complete BULLSHIT! I usually have to reboot that MF every day as it is..so this cannot be the answer UNLESS they are doing something from THEIR END just before you Reboot.

    This is unacceptable as I have been paying for almost 10 times faster than this. I think a class action suit is in order here.

    You have to now POLICE these ISP providers every day from totally ripping you off. What makes them think people are not going to know or figure this out? I think it’s because we voted BUSH in twice they think every American is a complete moron.

    • sage

      The free market is supposed to give us the best products and services available. With a well organized industry, such as cable, we are getting inferior service. This is the United States of America. We should have the fastest internet access in the world. We aren’t anywhere near close. I can’t even get access to Fios, the fastest consumer internet service available in this county. Even that is less that half the speed the Japanese have.
      I’d like to know how the Libertarians rationalize this “freedom.”

  4. Unhappy Jay

    Same here. Roadrunner “turbo”, extra $10 my foot. It’s VERY STRANGE that whenever I call and complain about inferior speeds, (and through what could only be explained as MAGIC) I’m back to .73Mbps up and 25.77Mbps down. As of right now, I am getting a whopping 3.36Mbps down and 0.04Mbps up! It’s also very inconsistent. It seems as though I’m being throttled during certain times of the day.

    I plan to monitor it closely in the coming weeks. Gotta get to the bottom of this mess… I miss FiOS.

  5. Mykal

    This will also depend on where you live in the country, and what service level you’re paying for. As a note, TWC doesn’t throttle their 30/5 U/D plan under the delivery speeds from my research, and my Shaper tests prove that out. Now, at the same time, don’t expect to get much more than what you’re paying for – I sit right on 30 down and 5 up within a few kb/s… but still, it holds true across a number of business associates.

    Paying for near-fiber speeds over Cable seems to be something they deliver on given my circumstances and location, and I’ll continue to monitor that weekly.

    • sage

      Those are cool findings. Thanks for writing! If you see anything different along the way please let us know.

  6. Sergio M. Arroyo

    I don't know much about bandwith, but when ever I use the internet, the page downloads in less then half a second. I do see that when I try to see high definition content on youtube, it usually lags, but it only lags sometimes, hmmm… I think I see what you mean now. Thanks for posting this blog discussion.

  7. Eric Wilcox

    I know this is a huge late message from the previous message and the starting time of the message.

    With Time Warner, I noticed that my speed seems to get slower and slower as my bill is due. The first day I got Time Warner, the speed was great, following the next two and 1/2 weeks. Suddenly, It started to slow down and doing speedtest each day and noticing that upload stays the same, but download is going slower and slower most of the day (I do get normal speeds in different times of the time, but not that long). Then the month ends and billed is paid, the speed goes back to being great… until I get closer to my billing date. I’m assuming that they are throttling me based on how much I used it during the month.

  8. Sandeep

    You should know that this is actually in their terms of service; it states that they will resort to traffic shaping and limiting bandwidth if they find that your data usage is high in order to be “fair” to other people using their network. Also in case you use peer to peer protocols (so yes even downloading Linux ISO’s through torrents is restricted).

    Utter crap. They haven’t bothered to upgrade their network and still charge people a lot of money and blame slow speed on people’s “high data usage”.

  9. Harold

    I didn’t know much about traffic shaping either, until I recently saw a tv news article on cell phone data throttling, and I thought “Hey, I think Time Warner Cable is doing that to my home Internet!” That led me to this website. Like another poster, I also experience terrible slowdown trying to watch HD Youtube videos. 480 is hit and miss, and 720 – forget about it. My friends who have it have been raving about FiOS and I will be making the switch soon.

  10. 5/20/2012

    just caught this after doing some google searching…

    want to talk about great customer service? here’s a direct quote from “Bobby Jones” via online customer service chat

    “Is your router had the firewall”

    ridiculous. in NYC and there are no other options for internet. talk about a monopoly

  11. Micheal

    At the beginning of April, I could watch a video on youtube in 720p fullscreen without a single second of buffering. Then my first cable bill came the last week of the month. The same week I was only able to watch fullscreeen youtube in 480p without buffering, this has continued through May. Now, it is the last week of May, and I receive my cable bill. I can now only watch youtube videos (smallest screen) on 320p and buffer every now and then. How is this NOT throttling? They see my usage, bill me, and throttle it. Twice in a row can’t be coincidence?

    The problem is not just with youtube though. My online games take 3 times as long to load screens as they previously have. If anyone had or does play StarCraft, then you know what I mean when I say my latency of hosted games, or trying to connect to another -even in the same gateway server- is at a constant 4-5 bars red. Two months ago? 0-1 bars green, and over this last month? 2-3 bars green/yellow.

    Can anyone explain the connection between my throttled bandwidth and the time of the month that my service is reviewed and billed?

  12. Micheal

    Sorry for the double post, but I ran the shaperProbe and found this extremely interesting when compared to your original post.

    Estimating capacity:
    Upstream: 1008 Kbps.
    Downstream: 30246 Kbps.

    The measurement will take upto 3.0 minutes. Please wait.

    Checking for traffic shapers:

    Upstream: Measurement aborted due to high packet loss rate.

    Downstream: Burst size: 4850-5701 KB;
    ~~~~~~ Shaping rate: 18442 Kbps. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Am I crazy? Or is TWC terrible?

  13. User

    Time Warner definitely throttles Youtube. My brother has Charter at his home, only 5 miles away from me. He pays less for the same advertised speed (20Mbps down). I can steam 1080p from Youtube without any buffering at all at his house. I go home and the same 20Mb connection on Time Warner can’t even watch 720p without buffering. Lame! Gonna explore FIOS. But at least they don’t throttle Netflix and other video sites (including porn). I can watch 720/1080 just fine on those sites lol.

  14. Diz

    I have a theory about this that I want someone else to try. When your time Warner is running slow and you think you’re being throttled, do a control speed test, then Google “time Warner throttling” then test again. I seem to get a boost in speed, then it drops back down again after a few minutes. I also suspect it may speed up when going to the speed testing websites, try testing with an application instead.

    • sage


  15. Suzanne

    Confirmed that googling “Time Warner throttling” here in NYC absolutely speeds up my connection for several minutes. This from someone whose default connection was taking 30 seconds to 2 minutes to open a page. Note that while experiencing delays of this length, my speed tests–both on the TWC website and elsewhere–were reporting 7-8 mbps. Yeah, right.

    Anyway, thanks for the workaround tip.

  16. Dichero

    Same issues here. I had ‘Standard’ RR internet until I dropped my land line and cable tv. My download speeds immediately dropped off. I purchased a couple Roku boxes and decided to upgrade to ‘Turbo’. For about 2 days I was downloading between 16-17+ Mbps and uploading around a bit over 2. Since then, I’m lucky to download near 5Mbps. Several calls and requests for a new improved modem. NOTHING. I’ve heard the same from many that have dropped all services other than internet from TWC.

  17. User

    Update on the Jully 11 “User” post.

    Youtube still buffers for me sometimes. But it’s less often now. It seems barely able to keep up while the video is playing, unlike Charter, which just fully loads like a breeze. Apparently Time Warner and Youtube have some sort of technology where they find one of the close server farms to your location and the best way to route it. If you use your own DNS server, the routing may not be optimal, so use your default DNS. That, or sometimes the routing path they use is just suboptimal or overloaded.

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