Yesterday as the work day wrapped up, I found that a game had updated with a really large patch. I let it begin the download, and it threw some errors before it was complete. I tried this a few more times and saw more errors. Baffled, I fired up my VPN to see if it might be a local routing issue. This solved the problem, and in the process I also noticed that some other downloads I had going were moving ten times faster.
Why? Comcast has been throttling connections. They are able to see that I have some large downloads going, and it scales down my internet speeds for those pieces. Over my VPN, they can’t see what I’m doing, so they can’t throttle it. Ergo, they speed up. Since Comcast doesn’t throttle my connection to assorted speed testing sites, all those speed tests show up normal (sometimes, even faster than you expect, I find).
This is a day to day, affects-everyone example of what Net Neutrality means. It means they can’t go inspecting my traffic to limit speeds on this or that, especially for shit that’s totally legitimate like patching a game, downloading a game via Steam or something, or streaming from Youtube, Twitch, or Netflix. And using VPN to actually get the speeds you pay for is a handy trick nobody should need to use.
People panic about security and privacy and government censorship, and that’s all important and legitimate and dangerous. But so few people bat an eye when companies do similarly for commercial purposes.