There are lots of things that can affect your speed. Some are under your control, some are not. I don't know an ISP that describes the speed tiers as anything other than "up to X Mbps." If you see low speeds, first make sure your machine is clean, and the only way to really be sure is to do an OS reinstall. Still slow? If you use DSL, it could be the house wiring if your phone lines are old. Old, corroded connections and splices can act as high frequency filters, limiting your speed. Try different jacks for the router/modem. House wiring OK? Start complaining to the ISP until they get motivated to work the problem.
Are you always downloading something? If so, then I wouldn't be surprised if your bandwidth is being rate limited. Traffic isn't free, and ISPs have to make money, so yeah, they can limit your trips to the buffet line if your usage pattern is atypically high. Can they do this? Check your service agreement, but almost certainly your ISP's agreement has some kind of "abuse of service" section that permits rate limiting or account termination for excessive bandwidth consumption. If you really need to download 24x7, there are accounts for that. Those accounts aren't consumer accounts with consumer pricing.