For the past two or so months, I've noticed that videos on YouTube were unable to stream at anything above 240p, which is the minimum quality option available. Any higher and I face extensive buffering. The thing is, my connection is clocked at 6Mbps down and .5Mbps up, which is more than enough to play 480p and 720p quality videos. I thought perhaps this was a problem with my NIC, so I tried it on several different computers at my house and they all experience the buffering issues.

Here's what I gathered thus far:

  • The slow transfer rate only occurs when streaming video on YouTube.com. Other video sites work fine.
  • This problem is reproducible on multiple computers.
  • Multiple measures of my internet connection (via Speedtest) and my router's status show that I have a good connection at 6Mbps with a good signal to noise ratio on the DSL line. With a latency of about 10-20ms from the nearest server here in Dallas.
  • And perhaps this is the most perplexing part: using a VPN connection resolves the issue.

Could it be possible that my ISP (AT&T DSL) is somehow throttling access to YouTube?

  • Can you do the following: Open any YouTube Video > Right-Click on said video > Click "Take Speed Test" and report on your speed results straight from YouTube?
    – Urda
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 5:46
  • Shows 4.6 Mbps, but the current speed from the debugger is about 700kbps
    – sigint
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 7:17
  • Starting about a week ago I'm also seeing this on Fios in Providence. Non-YT videos on other sites seem to be fine. I get 30Mbps up and 24 down- When I went to test my speed I first tried speedtest.com and got redirected to offer.verizon.com, where an offer to upgrade awaited. They've been pushing that for a bit.. I wonder if this YouTube throttling qualifies as marketing.
    – user36615
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


Yes, Youtube is being throttled then. The only question is where and why - there are a number of possible reasons for this, including a provider between you and Youtube simply not having enough bandwidth, or your ISP could be taking deliberate steps to limit the speed of your connection to Youtube - which has been known to happen (in general, I have no firsthand knowledge of AT&T)

The problem is obviously not with your connection onto the Internet per-se, as a VPN "routes around" the blockage.

[ I note that it is conceivable that the problem is with the specific cluster/servers you are using on Youtube, although this is unlikely]

  • 1
    I don't know how it is in US, but in Indonesia every time I opened Youtube without VPN the video is hosted on the ISP's own CDN (tried on various ISPs), so it would be trivial for the ISP to throttle Youtube. That said, if AT&T throttle Youtube specifically, would it be a violation against net neutrality?
    – Martheen
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 9:05
  • It also sounds like the problem is not between the OP and Youtube, given the VPN results. Conclusion: it's a part in between. Next step for the OP is to ask his ISP.
    – user55949
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 8:06

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