I wanted to write about something that we hear about a lot on the news, but, perhaps, is not well understood by the general public. Net Neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that says that governments should mandate that Internet Service Providers treat all data on the Internet the same. They should not discriminate or charge different prices based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, Internet Service Providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites or online content. The term Net Neutrality was coined in 2003 by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu. At that time there was some controversy over Comcast slowing the Internet connections of people that were using P2P file sharing such as Bit-torrent to download files. In one example, The Madison River Communications company was given a $15,000 USD fine by the FCC in 2004 for limiting their customers’ access to Vonage, which was competing with their own IP phone services. It was also discovered that AT&T was limiting access to FaceTime, so only those users on their new shared data plans could use the application. In July 2017, Verizon Wireless was accused of “throttling” after people started noticing Netflix and YouTube were slower than usual. Verizon responded by saying that it was conducting “network testing” and that the net neutrality rules allow “reasonable network management practices”. These are just some examples of the net neutrality rules not being adhered to.
At the time of this writing, Net Neutrality as a law in the United States has been REPEALED. It’s more important now than ever to protect yourself from the effects this will inevitably cause.
Always use a VPN when streaming media online
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Always use a VPN when streaming media online
One of the things I hear all the time is “When I run a speed test, it says I am getting the full 10MB speed”. This has to be one of the biggest tricks that ISPs play on unsuspecting customers. Of course, when the ISP sees that you are using a speedtest, it is going to show you that you are getting what you are paying for. While in reality, your ISP is shaping and throttling your traffic to meet their business needs and technological limitations. They can’t give 10MB to everyone. It’s just not physically possible. But the industry is engaged in a practice known as Over-Provisioning. It’s not a policy that they have, it’s more of a technical method that all networks use to manage themselves. During a hurricane or other natural disaster, for example, some users will get a busy signal if they pick up a landline phone, because the telephone company gives priority to 911 and other emergency calls. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes estimates of peak user loads and adjusts traffic to provide some quality of service to the users. Over-provisioning is used in private networks as well. This is a great technology that helps networks provide the best service for it’s users. But, inherently, it penalizes some users over others by design. It’s not always an intentional or malicious behavior. But, if an ISP sees that you are streaming a lot of video, or downloading large files, they are likely start throttling you. In this manner, it’s not just an automatic adjustment. The companies make business decisions to try to accommodate everyone. It’s just that they can’t.
Another strategy that your Internet Service Provider is using, is called Traffic Shaping. Traffic shaping is a means of controlling computer network traffic to optimize or guarantee a certain level of performance It is used to improve latency (decrease Internet response times), and/or increase the overall usable bandwidth by delaying packets that meet a criteria. Traffic Shaping is often used to throttle certain types of data, such as Streaming Video on Kodi or Netflix, or using P2P file sharing systems. More specifically, traffic shaping is ANY action taken on data packets which imposes a delay on those packets so that they conform to some predetermined constraint.
There are a host of other methods that Internet Service Providers use to determine who’s traffic is more or less important. I won’t go into them all. But I want to make the point that, while your ISP might not INTENTIONALLY slow you down just because you are Streaming on Kodi or playing video games the mechanisms inherent in the fabric of networks do slow you down. You can bet that your Internet speed is less important that some other big customers of your ISP.
So, now that you have a little insight into what is going on, the big question is how to avoid this from happening to you. The answer is very simple, in fact. Say for example your ISP is slowing down your Kodi streaming or online gaming The biggest reason they are doing this is because THEY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. So…the best way to overcome this is by not letting them see what you are doing. I used this analogy in another article I wrote about a pipe inside a pipe. You rent the main pipe from them. That is your Internet connection. They can see everything that flows through that pipe and they can control the flow based on what is flowing through it. But imagine that you put your own pipe inside their pipe. Now all they see is that there is a pipe there. They can’t see inside. Only you know what is in that pipe. So, they have no choice but to give you your full speed, because they can’t be sure if you are running a mission critical application, or just watching porn. This is what a VPN does for you. I creates that pipe inside their pipe.
There are many benefits to using a VPN. Because it is such a secure way of hiding and encrypting traffic, businesses trust VPN connections between their remote offices to run their business critical applications. This allows them to use the normal public Internet system to communicate, instead of stringing up wires between those offices. These VPN connections provide the same speed and security as a physical wire. This is a testament to how well a VPN can hide your traffic.
VPNs are not just used to hide your traffic. They are also used to provide you with a virtual geographic location. Your VPN provider has “nodes” all over the world. These are endpoints where your virtual pipe empties back out into the public Internet. And, wherever that happens to be is where everyone thinks you are physically located. For instance if you live in Colombia and you want to access a website that is only available from Japan, you can just change your VPN setting (usually with a click or two), and voila, you appear to be in Japan. This can also be used to overcome geographic restrictions on Streaming Video. Set your VPN to another country and enjoy the Netflix content that is only available in that country. Or, good luck accessing The Pirate Bay in a lot of countries, because it has been BANNED. So, the ONLY way to access this website, and many other torrent websites is with a VPN.
There are a lot of reasons to use a VPN as a part of your daily Internet usage. In general we all want more privacy and freedom. However, those two things are the often at odds with each other when it comes to the Internet. When you use the Internet, there is no expectation of privacy. People get their identities and even their money stolen every day on the Internet. Without a VPN, you are virtually walking through the jungle naked with a machete. When you start using a VPN as a means to privacy and protection, you will be fully armored for the dangers that you will face in that jungle.
In closing, here are some the main factors that should help you understand how important a VPN is to your privacy and freedom:
- Make an Unsecure Wifi Connection Secure
- Access your bank accounts and other secure websites on public WiFi
- Work or play from anywhere that has an Internet connection and know your data is private
- Increased Anonymity
- Your IP address can be used to track ALL of your online activity
- A VPN gives you a virtual IP address so no one can track you online
- Overcome Regional Content Restriction
- Appear to be somewhere else no matter where you are
- Access geographically restricted websites, movies or other content
- Bypass Governmental Censorship
- Since no one can see your traffic, they can’t very well censor it
- Depending on where you live, you may see a greater benefit than some
- Prevent Identity Theft
- Your data is always encrypted. No one can see it, so no one can steal it
- An estimated 15.4 million consumers were affected by some sort of ID theft last year
- Avoid Being Monitored
- Spyware or Malware on your computer can’t track you when using a VPN
- Your government and/or your ISP can’t monitor your usage.
Now that you know how important it is to use a VPN, be sure to choose a high quality VPN service like IPVanish to keep your ISP from slowing you down, spying on you or blocking you. We have negotiated a great VPN offer for our readers.