O2 admits to throttling your roaming data

O2 admits to throttling your 4G roaming data

O2 has confessed that they are intentionally throttling the speed of 3G and 4G data services when customers are using their phones abroad.

Throttling is a process that networks can use to limit the speed and bandwidth that customers can get.

Throttling = naughty

Networks might start throttling data for customers who use or watch restricted or illegal content. It’s normally doled out for people caught using peer-to-peer filesharing or viewing pirated streams.

Although the issue was initially raised on a humble O2 support forum, the user’s detailed findings on SIMs from O2 and other networks has forced O2 into handing over an explanation.

“Data roaming surpassed all expectations,” said an O2 spokesperson.

“We therefore have put temporary measures in place to protect the service experience for customers roaming in our Europe Zone.

“These firewalls are temporary and we are working to have these controls removed within the coming weeks.”

Ireland’s in the EU, remember?

O2 roaming data has been shown to be almost 20 times slower than the speeds you get at home – with one user stating that their typical 8.52Mbps down, 7.19Mbps up connection dropped to a shockingly low 0.50Mbps down, 0.50Mbps up when roaming in Ireland.

In addition, the user reported being unable to get a 4G connection with O2 at any point during their visit, despite 4G being readily available.

This means O2 is specifically preventing its customers from accessing 4G networks and heavily throttling their speeds on 3G.

In June, the EU introduced legislation that demanded free roaming for mobile customers across all of Europe. This ‘roam like home’ policy is designed to ensure that people can experience a consistent mobile service anywhere they go.

Time to switch?

It is certainly possible that O2 was not prepared for this EU change and they’re struggling to work things out.

Vodafone has put O2 to shame, however, with the same user reporting that their 4G Vodafone connection was actually faster abroad than it was in the UK.

So, until O2 fix their issues (whatever they may be), it may be worth switching to a Vodafone SIM if you plan on going abroad.


Samuel Newman is a consumer journalist and blogger based in Sheffield.
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