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O2 EU Roaming versus, Vodafone, Three, Asda, BT and Tesco. Dublin 13th July 2017

Level 28: Ingenious
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As you know one of my bug bearers with O2 is currently there Roaming in the EU which we all know that they throttle.

On the 15th June 2017, EU made changes that all the EU networks had to offer cross roaming free of charge, so you can use your own allowance in one of the Roaming EU countries.


Now I wanted to give it a Month to settle in before I did any testing to ensure that every network was complaint and that all the issues were sorted out.


So, on the 13th July, I went on a day visit to Dublin with 2 of my friends and a few Devices / Sim cards from different UK networks to do some testing and obviously a bit of eating and drinking too.


Now the test was not totally about speed, but about what was on offer from each network and how they all compared.


I took the following with me

O2 Contract                        iPhone 7+ Cat 9 Device Capable of 450Mbps DL

O2 PAYG                            iPhone 6+ Cat 6 Device Capable of 300Mbps DL

Three Contract                    iPhone 6 Cat 4 Device Capable of 150Mbps DL

Vodafone Contract             WileyFox Swift 2 Cat 4 Capable of 150Mpbs DL (Dual Sim Phone)

Tesco PAYG                      Wileyfox Swift 2 Cat 4 Capable of 150Mbps DL (Dual Sim Phone)

BT Mobile Contract            Wileyfox Swift 1 Cat 4 Capable of 150Mbps DL (Dual Sim Phone)

Asda PAYG                       Wileyfox Swift 1 Cat 4 Capable of 150Mbps DL (Dual Sim Phone)



1st Test Manchester Airport Terminal 3 (7AM) (Main networks only tested)

O2 Contract        4G Signal              8.52Mbps Down, 7.19Mbps Up

Three Contact     3G Signal              Data did not work for 2 Hours being in airport

Vodafone            4G Signal              15.96Mbps Down, 10.44Mbps up

BT Mobile           4G Signal              4.81Mbps Down, 8.54Mbps up

Winner at Airport:                           Vodafone,           2nd O2 Contract



2nd Test Dublin Airport Terminal 1 (9AM) (Only had time to run Main Network Tests)

O2 Contract        3G Only                0.25Mbps Down, 0.30Mbps Up

Three                  3G Only                7.46Mbps Down, 1.07Mbps Up

Vodafone            3G                        6.07Mbps Down, 3.93Mbps Up

BT Mobile           3G                        3.16Mbps Down, 1.64 Up

Winner at Dublin Airport:                Three,                   2nd Vodafone



3rd Test Centre of Dublin O’Connell Street (10.30AM)

O2 Contract        3G Only                 0.49Mbps Down, 0.58Mbps Up

O2 PAYG            3G Only                1.84Mbps Down, 0.44Mbps Up

Three                  3G Only                7.46Mbps Down, 1.07Mbps Up

Vodafone            4G                        26.30Mbps Down, 11.01Mbps Up

Tesco PAYG      3G Only                 2.09Mbps Down, 1.12Mbps Up

BT Mobile           3G                         4.59Mbps Down, 1.21Mbps Up

Asda Mobile       3G                         3.89Mbps Down, 0.46Mbps Up

Winner on O’Connell Street:           Vodafone,          2nd Three



4Th Test was done in the ILAC Shopping Centre in Dublin Centre (12 Noon)

O2 Contract        3G Only                0.50Mbps Down, 0.49Mbps Up

O2 PAYG            3G Only                4.44Mbps Down, 1.43Mbps Up

Three                  3G Only                0.86Mbps Down, 0.41Mbps Up

Vodafone            4G                         43.73Mbps Down, 26.74Mbps Up

Tesco PAYG       3G Only                2.25Mbps Down, 0.83Mbps Up

BT Mobile           4G                         13.56Mbps Down, 23.91Mbps Up

Asda Mobile       4G                          26.68Mbps Down, 21.70Mbps Up

Winner in ILAN Centre:                   Vodafone,          2nd Place Asda



5th Test was done in Burger King Centre of Dublin (2.40PM)

O2 Contract        3G Only                0.51Mbps Down, 1.04Mbps Up

O2 PAYG            3G Only                0.91Mbps Down, 0.18Mbps Up

Three                  3G Only                7.41Mbps Down, 0.35Mbps Up

Vodafone            4G                        16.66Mbps Down, 14.45Mbps Up

Tesco PAYG      3G Only                5.65Mbps Down, 0.64Mbps Up

BT Mobile           3G                        19.05Mbps Down, 3.53Mbps Up

Asda Mobile       3G                         9.16Mbps Down, 0.27Mbps Up

Winner in ILAN Centre:                  BT Mobile (3G), 2nd Place Vodafone (4G)



6th Test was done on the River Bank in Dublin Centre. Only 3 Tests ran (4.20PM)

O2 Contract        3G Only                0.57Mbps Down, 0.42Mbps Up

Three                  3G Only                0.52Mbps Down, 0.29Mbps Up

Vodafone            4G                        121.07 Down, 26.95 Up

Winner:                Vodafone, I’m not even awarding a 2nd Place as no network deserved it.



7th Place Was done at International Banking Centre Dublin (5.40PM)

O2 Contract          3G Only                 0.58Mbps Down, 1.01Mbps Up

O2 PAYG              3G Only                6.76Mbps Down, 1.10Mbps Up

Three                    3G Only                0.30Mbps Down, 0.35Mbps Up

Vodafone              3G                         2.70Mbps Down, 3.03Mbps Up

Tesco PAYG        3G Only                 1.46Mbps Down, 0.96Mbps Up

BT Mobile             4G                         1.16Mbps Down, 10.40Mbps Up

Asda Mobile         3G                         1.82Mbps Down, 0.23Mbps Up

Winner Int Bank Centre:                      O2 PAYG,            2nd Place Vodafone



8th and Final Test Dublin Airport at Gate waiting to Board Aircraft (8PM)

O2 Contract         3G Only                0.57Mbps Down, 0.56Mbps Up

O2 PAYG             3G Only                3.90Mbps Down, 1.12Mbps Up

Three                    3G Only                0.42Mbps Down, 0.35Mbps Up

Vodafone              4G                         26.22Mbps Down, 2.95Mbps Up

Tesco PAYG        3G Only                 0.08Mbps Down, 0.54Mbps Up

BT Mobile             3G                         1.72Mbps Down, 0.34Mbps Up

Asda Mobile         3G                          0.23Mbps Down, 00.07Mbps Up

Winner in ILAN Centre:                      Vodafone,          2nd Place O2 PAYG Just





O2 Contract is throttled beyond believe. You could see the phone trying its hardest and on many occasions starting the speed test I was getting 10+ Mbps, however throttling kicked in and it went straight to 0.50 mostly. I’m appalled that it’s still throttled badly and its shocking that 4G is still not available. What I can tell you though is that 4G is trying to Activate on O2, but it forces your phone back to 3G. before it would say Network Failure, now it says Network Registered, but would revert to 3G. so O2 need to just put a tick in a box, unlock 4G please and also remove the blasting throttling that your killing us with. Also, O2 Contract is throttled, but not PAYG, what is wrong with O2.


O2 PAYG was not throttled as I could see and speeds varied over Dublin. The main problem is that it would not clamp onto 4G no matter how hard I tried, I was able to connect to Metor and Three, however there wasn’t much difference in them both, the phone would always revert back to Three as its preferred network.


Three Contract, Wow this was all over the place, no data in Manchester and although it didn’t look throttled in Dublin itself, speeds were very hit and miss. The main problem is that Three latches onto its home Three IE network and just doesn’t really let go, Three IE seems somewhat hit and miss and I think that most of the masts are just congested.


BT Mobile, put in a good performance but couldn’t clamp onto 4G much, which was the same as Asda Mobile. The main reason is there network of choice which again is Three IE. Data rates were all over the place. Lots of places were just congested, but no data restrictions were in place for what I could see


Asda Mobile were the same as BT Mobile. No restrictions but struggled on the preferred network which again was Three IE. Shame really as was impressed that a Supermarket PAYG got 4G overseas.


Tesco’s was just hampered with the lack of no 4G. It was never no clear winner, but there wasn’t a restriction in place which is good for a Supermarket Network.


Clear Winner has to be Vodafone. No matter how you look at it, it just won from the word go. It was pretty solid all over on 4G, just reverted to 3G in shops etc, but the 121Mbps download on 4G just shows that they have truly meant what they said and no restrictions at all. The choice of network was Vodafone IE which clearly showed that they have spent money in the network in the city and I’ve no doubt that If the sim card was in my iPhone 7+, the data would have been much higher


Position                UK Network           3G/4G in EU        EU Network used 

1st Place               Vodafone          (4G and 3G)     (Vodafone IE)

2nd Place              BT Mobile           (4G and 3G)      (Three IE and Metor)

3rd Place               Asda                   (4G and 3G)      (Three IE and Metor)

4th Place               O2 PAYG            (3G Only)          (Three IE and Metor)

5th Place               Three                  (3G Only)           (Three IE) (No Data in MCR Airport Data all over place)

6th Place               O2 Contract        (3G Only)           (Three IE and Metor) (Throttled)


I really do hope you enjoyed reading this. O2 Please please please, enable 4G roaming and stop Throttling, its making you look like cheap skates and bad as a network for over seas.

And what are you throttling only O2 Contract customers?

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Message 1 of 843
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Well there goes my theory that somehow it is because my account has some strange 2010 data settings.

But throttling at that level should be called out. Loud and often.
Message 31 of 843

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**Personal info**17 22:19 - edited ‎**Personal info**17 22:24
it does however mentioned that speeds on o2 travel will be reduced after 50MB and some things will either be slower or not work.

Ireland is no longer part of o2 Travel and now just classed as EU roaming.

but the next thing was o2 PAYG who did not move or O2 IE or now just 3 in Ireland revised much faster speeds than me on all occasions and experience no throttling at all. Tesco was the same, I never needed to look for another network as no throttling. Tesco went through 450Mb of data at ease, o2 PAYG went through 270MB at ease. No issues. It's Just o2 contract that are and have been for a number of years throttled to the inch of its life.


Hmm! Firstly darrengf I want to add my voice to the thanks and congratulations for the time you've taken to do this research and log all the results, all in your own time. Outstanding work!

Now, I wonder what others think of this: When O2 Travel was only based around data, I used to use it on days when I couldn't connect to wifi. E.g. if I was working and had wifi access, I would just keep mobile data switched off and plan the days when I would turn it on and spend the £1.99 a day.

When they changed it to include calls and texts, whereby they would charge me £1.99 for just sending a text, I opted out of O2 Travel. The pennies per megabyte were affordable enough and I averaged out at less then £2 a day. When I'm away I just want to use map apps, train timetables, maybe a little bit of research on where to eat etc. I can say that when I used O2 contract mobile data pre-June 15th but when opted out of O2 Travel, I had absolutely no problems with connection or speed (certainly last year and earlier this year in Germany, Spain mainland + Canaries, Portugal, France, Ireland). So I believe they throttled those on O2 Travel, but not those on contracts who who were paying for overseas usage as-you-go. So effectively as I was being charged on my actual usage per minute, per text, per MB, it's the same pattern as for PAYG customers who still today are not being throttled like contract customers.


Last week I made my first trip since free EU roaming (to Landshut in Bavaria, travelling via Innsbruck and Munich). O2-DE in Germany was unusable. Google Maps took 10 minutes to load; searches for places within maps app timed out. Couldn't look up train times on the mobile website. I had full phone signal but still the data speeds were late-90s dial-up or worse. In Austria, in Innsbruck city centre, the speeds on 3-AT were better; it was actually just about usable. But in Germany on O2-DE it was unusable. I was in Hanover for nine days in March and I didn't notice any problem at all with the modest amount of roaming I did.

This became a major issue and not just an inconvenience when, on arriving into Munich main station on the way to catch the flight home, I received a text message saying "Your flight is cancelled" (due to the Gatwick plane tyre incident). In order to try and rearrange flights and get hotel accommodation, we had to scrabble around to find wifi. Simply couldn't be done on mobile roaming in Munich city centre. Another weird thing during the whole trip was when I could get connection, my travelling companion couldn't, and vice-versa. And we were both on O2 contracts.

For future trips to Europe I'm now faced with the unnecessary cost and inconvenience of collecting a bunch of PAYG SIM cards to put in my old Samsung Galaxy S3 (not 4G). I have no issues with O2 in the UK but I don't want to have to be in the situation again that I was over the past week or so.


I have a question though: if I put e.g. a Vodafone PAYG SIM into my normal Galaxy S6 4G phone, would TuGo work with my existing O2 phone number (i.e. does TuGu read the SIM?). Otherwise I could live with a 3G signal for browsing/wifi hotspot on the older S3 phone when in the EU.


on ‎**Personal info**17 23:15
Will be interesting to see what happens in Germany this weekend, as that should latch onto o2-de

If you have time before you go, grab a PAYG Tesco or Vodafone SIM and put it in an old phone, if you have one, and use it as a mobile hotspot!!!

Message 32 of 843

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TU would work with your existing phone number that you sign in with, it doesn't read it off the sim. Of course you would need the phone to be unlocked if not using o2 P&G. 

Message 33 of 843

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Just done some speed tests here in Germany and o2 is under .5mbps down and 1.0up, and BT is over 13mbps down and 2.5up

Absolutely shambles from o2.. just not good enough
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Message 34 of 843

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But O2 contract customers aren't throttled. No honestly they aren't,  O2 say so......

Thanks for those results @madasaf1sh and I really do think the press or other media should get their teeth into this because O2 refuse to listen to customers or even acknowledge there is any throttling.

I remember in the days of O2 Travel I tried roaming at £4.99 in Thailand. I got 0.01 down and 0.3 up. Absolutely unusable and I wouldn't care,I made the mistake of not switching off mobile data when popping my O2 contract sim in the phone because I needed a code sent. Expensive mistake ! Bear in mind I was getting around 60Mbp of 4G on DTAC with my Thai sim.

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@jonsie media sent a link to this thread lol

iPhone 11 Pro 256gb on unlimited data
iPad Pro 12.9” 2020 256gb refresh o2 family discount
Apple Watch series 4
My first mobile was in 1995 a CM-R111 from sony on Cellnet.
Wincanton South Somerset (Full 4g 3G 2g indoor coverage) Remember we are all customers here not customer services

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There is a fair amount of proof of the abysmal roaming data speeds from O2 (on the threads where people have taken time to do research) Thanks to them for their hard work by the way.

It's absolutely pathetic that O2 are refusing to acknowledge these tried and tested results. They are following the 'corporate line' of sticking heads in the sand . They need to pick up their game. A one time leader in the world of mobile phone technology is failing it's customers badly. The question they care enough? Answers on a postcard please. Evil

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Message 37 of 843

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Registered: oops did i tag a bbc technolgy reporter lol


iPhone 11 Pro 256gb on unlimited data
iPad Pro 12.9” 2020 256gb refresh o2 family discount
Apple Watch series 4
My first mobile was in 1995 a CM-R111 from sony on Cellnet.
Wincanton South Somerset (Full 4g 3G 2g indoor coverage) Remember we are all customers here not customer services

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@adamtemp64 gleefully retweeted slight_smile


Before I travel next I'm definitively acquiring a pay as you go sim from 3 or voda as a backup.


I just had a call about my early June trip and first customer services immediately offered to refund me the fees. I guess there's some value to being an old, doesnt-take-the-*bleep* customer. I guess they could see the amount of data is low.

Suggestions made should I encounter unusable speed were to do things that might "rejig" the network specific settings on the phone and in the o2 system.

- remove o2 travel via sms (can always add it again). Note that with my plan sms add/remove does not work

- do a network reset (is that what fetches all the settings via the sim again?)

- call them there and then, now that calling from the EU is free


I'm rather sceptical the first two will do much, but putting them here just in case.


Message 40 of 843