EU roaming speeds see slowdown

In June last year, long-awaited European legislation that abolished additional fees for using your mobile phone in another member state finally came into effect.

The news was welcomed due to dramatically reducing the cost of roaming, but new data from Ookla’s Speedtest has suggested that many Europeans still suffer a disparity in terms of the speeds they enjoy at home compared to what they do abroad.

The mean download speed in EU member states is 30.57Mbps but drops to 25.5Mbps when in another country.


The figures are influenced by several factors, such as the quality of networks at home and in the visited country, the customer’s tariff and the nature of the agreement between the operator you use and the network you are roaming on.

For example, some operators might prioritise domestic over foreign traffic, while others might route it over a 3G network rather than 4G.

The biggest difference was the Netherlands, which has some of the fastest speeds in the world, where Dutch mobile users suffer a drop of more than 50 per cent when abroad.

Denmark, Luxemburg, Hungary and Belgium also have a decrease of at least 40 per cent, but users from Italy, Estonia, Latvia and Portugal actually get faster speeds abroad. Germany was the most balanced with a decrease of just 0.1 per cent.

The mean download speed in the UK is 26.16Mbps, whereas abroad it is 21.08Mbps, a decrease of 19.4 per cent. There are significant variations according to destination, with roamers enjoying 25Mbps in Italy and Spain but just 14Mbps in Austria. However Slovenian roamers in Austria get 32.58Mbps because of more favourable operator agreements.

There are also discrepancies in terms of network. Thanks to 4G roaming offers and international partnerships, EE and Vodafone offer faster speeds in popular destinations than Three.

The mean download speed for UK roamers in Spain is 25.16Mbps, but this increases to 28.04Mbps on EE, 27.04Mbps on O2 and 35.54Mbps on Vodafone. If you’re on Three this falls to 9.9Mbps.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.