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O2 admits slowing down customers' internet speeds dramatically when roaming

'We have put temporary measures in place to protect the service experience'

Aatif Sulleyman
Wednesday 26 July 2017 19:21 BST
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Roaming charges were scrapped in the EU on 15 June
Roaming charges were scrapped in the EU on 15 June (REUTERS/Christian Charisius)

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O2 has admitted to deliberately slowing down customers’ mobile internet speeds.

The mobile operator has been throttling network bandwidth for people roaming in the EU.

Roaming charges were scrapped in the EU on 15 June, meaning you can use your phone as you would at home, without being hit with enormous bills.

However, since then, O2 has been making it harder for phone users to actually do anything online while they're abroad.

A customer posted the results of speed tests he carried out in Dublin on 13 July, a month after roaming charges were scrapped, using a range of SIM cards from different UK operators.

He found that O2’s mobile data speeds were far, far lower abroad than they were in the UK, dropping from 8.52Mbps (download) and 7.19Mbps (upload) at Manchester Airport to 0.25Mbps (download) and 0.30Mbps (upload) at Dublin Airport.

The O2 contract SIM never exceeded speeds of 0.58Mbps (download) and 1.04Mbps (upload) during the customer’s time in Dublin.

While performance was erratic, the O2 PAYG SIM was able to reach speeds of 6.76Mbps (download) and 1.43Mbps (upload).

On Vodafone, he managed to hit highs of 121.07Mbps (download) and 26.95Mbps (upload), and on Three he reached highs of 7.46Mbps (download) and 1.07Mbps (upload).

The customer was never able to use 4G services on either of his O2 SIM cards.

“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 [sic] shocking that 4G is still not available,” he wrote in a post on the O2 forum, spotted by the Register.

“Also, O2 Contract is throttled, but not PAYG, what is wrong with O2.”

O2 has since confirmed that it has been throttling speeds.

“We have put temporary measures in place to protect the service experience for customers roaming in the EU. We are working to have these controls removed within the coming weeks,” a spokesperson said.

In an updated statement, an O2 spokesperson told the Independent: "Data roaming surpassed all expectations 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."

According to an April report on 4G coverage in the UK, EE is ahead of O2, Vodafone and Three.

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