back to article O2 admits to throttling network bandwidth for EU data roamers

O2 has admitted to deliberately throttling its network as a "temporary measure" to combat the demand of Brits using free data roaming abroad. The issue was first pointed out by a punter in the UK mobile network's support forum, who noted that within a month of the EU abolishing roaming charges on June 15, he was unable to use …

FAIL

In breach of the eu roam like home regs as stated in the linked o2 community thread

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Anonymous Coward

How long have they known this was happening, again?

Dear o2,

It seems a pretty feeble excuse, given you have known for quite a few years now, this was happening.

I'd personally, like to see you fined. And fined BIG.

Yours,

o2 Customer.

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In breach of.....

Not in my experience, O2 performance is like this a lot of the time here in the UK. No need to go to Dublin to be disappointed with O2 data rates

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Anonymous Coward

It's a shame we don't any previous years to reference whether when this was a separate paid for service they had problems.

Though when you think about it throttling the service without any other option is not going to put in you high customer regard when they come to renew their contract before next year.

I don't think someone at O2 has thought this through.

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Last year, I used paid-for O2 roaming in Greece, Netherlands, Czechia and Italy, all with no problems. I didn't always have 4G, but there was no noticeable throttling of speed.

Funny, eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Heh, of course they've thought about it - They've thought "How do we get everyone taking advantage of roaming to take their business elsewhere and stop costing us money?"

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Silver badge

Glad I am sticking with Three for the moment. I have noticed that it is slower when I go abroad but I don't know if that is Three, their partner or just crappy networks.

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Thumb Down

It's 3

Whatever partnership they do with local providers it's always throttled but more skillfully than O2, for example they figure out when you stream something and throttle that more aggressively than loading pages, sometimes you can barely stream 128kbps internet radio. I've seen that in NL, DE, BG, ES, AT

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a software engineer and can confirm 100% that ** Three do this too **

I couldn't connect to the internet in France in May this year. I took a photo of the mobile masts that I was stood underneath and a screenshot of the full signal on my phone.

The speed test app showed fast connectivity, but I couldn't connect to ANY sites.

Google Maps did work, but no internet browsing at all.

Free phone calls as promised though.

I learned to tether abroad years alo (TMobile) when I was bored so know that's technically possible. Three have since blocked this too.

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It's the same with Three

Interestingly enough, I find that Three is just as bad both in the EU and elsewhere. During a stay in Lanzarote I was getting similar speeds to the OP, but when running a speed test on a popular speed testing site, I got over 10 Mbs. Go figure.

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Silver badge

Dunno about tethering. Three don't (didn't) support tethering whilst roaming at all, they won't even sell it as an add on.

Is this some fundamental technology limitation in the telecoms standards, or is this just Three being skin flints?

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Silver badge

Tethering is a function of your phone, not the mobile network. They are being skinflints.

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Anonymous Coward

Tethering

Just them being skin flints in a effort to restrict the amount of data you use when roaming.

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Silver badge

Three "Feel At Home" was good value while I was in USA, but was limited to no LTE.

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Silver badge

No limitation, just the commerical agreement between Three and the other company. It's annoying but I guess it does keep their prices low.

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Thumb Down

"is this just Three being skin flints"

I'm not sure that is a charge you can level at Three... they included as standard 4G while every other network was charging extra and they've had "feel at Home" as a no cost extra long before it was mandated , not to mention they have it in many more countries than just the EU

The no tethering is more likely to be a restriction placed on them by their partners

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Anonymous Coward

Three Feel At Home..

I sign up to 3, for 2 important reasons.. Unlimited data and ability roam freely in a lot of countries. But they are very aggressive when it comes to throttling and bandwidth shaping - VPN's are practically unuseable and streaming of any kinda is useless.

Saying that, they have recently changed their plans to include a certain amount of Tethering, also I hope the new EU rules and competition will force a change on this..

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Yeah, that part was annoying. When I went to the US last year, I took a phone that could handle most US 4G frequencies, and I could *see* the 4G networks when I went looking for them, but just couldn't connect to them. On the other hand, the 3G coverage I got was generally fine, and it is great that free roaming to the US is being offered by someone, so I am not going to complain much.

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Anonymous Coward

re. tethering

three don't allow it on certain plans, like pay as you go, and, having read some speculation on various forums, it also has something to do with phone's OS, i.e. as some people using iphones reported tethering worked fine (there was some semi-insider inforation provided on the subject too). While tethering did work for me, on several occassions, it was promptly detected, and it appears their system blocks it for my number completely. So, I found a solution: I use a local pay as you go card and three get nil from me, when I'm abroad.

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Re: Three Feel At Home..

I travel around Europe a lot for work and noticed the day the EU regs came in three changed their info pages and now describe feel at home as a different service to the non eu countries they allow roaming in (can’t remember the name off the top of my head).

They also allow 4g and tethering now (think there’s a tethering cap) along witn vpn use. It’s an amazing improvement on what we had previously where only social media ran well and id get 0.2mbits max on any other website.

I’m tethering right now in Nuremberg to my iPad watching Netflix with no problem. Got 20Mbits earlier on for a speed test as well. It’s not as perfect or reliable as in the uk but a darn sight better than the feel at home (if all you use at home is social media) that we had before!

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FAIL

You know whats next?

Across the board (see what I did there) price rises

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This post has been deleted by its author

Have just been in Denmark 2 weeks ago - and was surprised that my wife (who uses GiffGaff) could get a 4G connection and great speeds - where as I (who use O2) could not get a 4G connection and had a very slow connection - EVEN THOUGH we both connected to the same mobile network in Denmark.

At least now I now why! Shame on you O2!!

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It's even funnier when you reallise that GiffGaff run on O2's infrastructure....

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"It's even funnier when you reallise that GiffGaff run on O2's infrastructure...."

I don't know what it is like now as I have moved away but I was rarely seeing over 0.5Mbps with a 4G signal at home, let alone abroad with Giff Gaff. My experience was similar to that described in the article, where it would start high and immediately dip to between 1.0 and 0.5Mbps as the throttling kicked in.

I moved to BT Mobile in the end. I hate myself for doing it as I liked the GiffGaff concept and ethos but I can't complain about the BT/EE 4G throughput.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

You could see the phone trying its hardest

What?!?!

Was his phone sweating? Was it pulling a face like it was squeezing one out?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You could see the phone trying its hardest

It dropped it's battery load.

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Silver badge

As poor as Vodafone are

In the UK, their roaming has been excellent. since I left Three (for traffic shaping) Vodafone have been excellent in France, Spain and Italy.

I'm going to Spain again in a couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see if there have been any changes.

Ironically Three used to throttle their data on feel at home but apparently now it's better.

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Meh

Re: As poor as Vodafone are

I've used Three in the US, New Zealand, Hong Kong as well as Europe and I've never had any kind of problem. There's certainly been no obvious throttling but then I was just using it for google, maps, navigation and email.

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Re: As poor as Vodafone are

Same for me, southern Sardinia I tested 42/34mbs on Vodafone 4G roaming...

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Silver badge

Re: As poor as Vodafone are

Hmm. My Mrs is on Vodafone. Last week across rural France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy I (on Three) was consistently was able to get better performance and more network choice than she was.

That, and Vodafone's atrocious customer service and poor coverage in our local is why she'll be leaving at the end of her contract.

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Bronze badge

Whenever I've taken my O2 phone to France, it has never got 4G, always 3G. I haven't been yet since the EU roaming rule came into play. Not impressed with these reports.

On a separate note, my son took his o2 phone to a music festival near Reading (Truckfest), google's find my phone feature said he was in Glastonbury (yes, he lost his phone, but luckily someone found it and handed it in). Needless to say, data services didn't work at all for the three days he was there.

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The Glastonbury thing will be because the festivals set up their own masts. When you dial 999 at Glastonbury you get directed to a dedicated call centre on site so they can get to you. It's not much good dispatching an Ambulance from a little village for someone passed out next to Main stage.

Truckfest was probably using the same kit/company and Google's metadata hadn't updated that the Mast Ids had moved (probably more people at Glasto weighting the algorithms)

That is just a guess :)

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Bronze badge

Glastonbury

I (on O2) found i had lots of 4G bars, but poor signal, worked better when it dropped to 3G (eventually turned 4G off). My girlfriend on EE had good bars and signal all weekend. No surprise that one of the 'partners' for the festival is EE.

Actually found much the same when I went to see Tom Petty in Hyde Park with my mum (also on EE) seems that O2 don't like big crowds of people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Glastonbury

I have a box of quality chocolate bars (way more than 3) but my signal is still shit.

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Anonymous Coward

Tethering workaround.

Set your SSH at home to listen on port 53, tunnel over port 53, voila.*

Worked on GiffGaff when I last used them. I could tunnel through 53 and my bandwidth usage wouldn't budge when tethered and tunneled.

*Yes yes port forwarding, routers blah blah. We're all engineers here.

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Anonymous Coward

Vodafone are up to the same trick ?

March 17 in Spain on a Vodafone contract with added EU data, 4g and fast as you like. Now, changed to large data contract with out an EU data add on. Spain end of June, exactly the same place, throttled to death, useless until after midnight where it seems to free its self up. No way to stream anything. Im going again tomorrow, will see if its changed for the better...

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Facepalm

Mobile operators ...

... reaping the contempt they deserve. No surprise here. I've moved from Voda, to O2, to T-Mobile, to Voda, to Three to EE. All equally poor. I pick the least evil, and most reliable, as customer services with all of them is a time sink with no benefit.

We were all supposed to be watching TV on our phones on the train, when 3G arrived - remember?

I simply no longer trust the operators and ignore their advertising.

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Bronze badge

Re: Mobile operators ...

its easier to just stop caring about the internet, and stick to 5 useless websites, and don't bother with the rest and laugh at government trying to get companies to invest in the shittie country

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I'm pretty sure that this has been going on for a while and became much worse once free roaming started being offered. I've tried using Three and Vodafone abroad with connection speeds often as low as a few 100kB's.

The first few of web pages usually work fine, beyond which it's like swimming through treacle. Switch to another device and all is fine, until you hit the throttling again. It's not consistently bad, but when it's bad, it's very, very bad.

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Bronze badge

t-mobile uk is just as crap, i have been getting 10Mbps on 3g 24/7 for months, now its capped at 60Kbps, which is pointless, so you make sure you just keep retrying to hog a connection until something works, even useless 144p youtube video's

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Meh

o2 - uk

hi there,

i am are german o2 costumer. i was from 19.07 to 26.07 in london / essex for holiday there, My phone has automatically entered into the o2 - uk, when i want to use the internet, was very very slow and i dont can use the 4G network. so i change manuel to EE network, then i can use the 4G network and all was perfect.

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