Rain throttles Internet speeds for customers on VPNs

Rain customers who use a virtual private network (VPN) have reported much slower download and upload speeds on their Internet connections.

MyBroadband forum members who are signed up to Rain’s Unlimited 4G package have reported extremely slow connection speeds across various VPN products, leading them to believe that the ISP is throttling VPN connections on its network.

All the customers who complained previously experienced no connection speed problems when using a VPN, with the issues only starting over the past few weeks.

The issue seems exclusive to this package, and many users have speculated that it is due to the potential usage of VPN services to circumvent the Unlimited 4G package’s streaming restrictions.

Rain’s Unlimited 4G service provides an uncapped Internet connection over its LTE network that can be used on any 4G-enabled device – including phones, Mi-Fi Routers, and home LTE routers.

This service is priced at R479 per month on a month-to-month contract and delivers speeds of up to 10Mbps.

However, the package limits video streaming to a maximum resolution of 360p, which is far below the maximum resolution enabled by its connection speeds.

VPN workaround

A number of Rain customers who signed up for the Unlimited 4G package discovered that by using a VPN, they could circumvent this restriction.

When connected to a VPN, all of the data you send and receive over the Internet is routed through this service, making it impossible for your ISP or network provider to monitor your activity.

This prevents Rain from throttling video streaming resolutions to 360p as it does for customers without VPNs, as it cannot determine whether the user’s Internet traffic is related to video streaming or not.

Our tests of this connection showed that video streaming quality was greatly improved when using a VPN, as well as torrent download speeds.

Rain seems to have discovered this workaround, however, and judging by the evidence provided by many MyBroadband forum members, it has decided to throttle all VPN connection severely.

Users reported that their connection speeds when using a VPN have dropped from 10Mbps or above to 1Mbps or below for both download and upload speeds.

Below is the speed test data submitted by a MyBroadband forum user, with the highlighted result being the only speed test conducted when not connected to a VPN.

Rain VPN speed tests
Credit: ScrooV

No comment from Rain

While the decision to limit the connection speeds of VPN-connected customers may address the workaround for video streaming quality, it could also have an adverse effect on those working from home.

Many South Africans working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be required to use a VPN to access their company’s networks. This is a common security measure implemented by many organisations to prevent unauthorised network access.

It is possible that these users may also experience slower Internet speeds if using the Rain Unlimited 4G package now that Rain has begun throttling connections to VPN services.

MyBroadband asked Rain for comment on its ostensible throttling of VPN speeds but the ISP did not respond by the time of publication.

Affected users have also reported that Rain customer support staff will not provide feedback on the throttling of VPN connections.

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Rain throttles Internet speeds for customers on VPNs