This post comes to us from GigSky VP of Business Development, Rich Neville
O2 Admits to Throttling EU Roamers
Last week, The Register reported that O2 UK has admitted to throttling roamers across the EU. This comes just a month after all roaming fees in the European Union were eliminated by order of the EU. An O2 customer ran some tests in Ireland and showed that LTE roaming was available at the beginning of the test, but throttling quickly kicked in and limited speeds to 500 KB (slow 3G). The customer also tried a PAYGO SIM from O2 and didn’t get the throttling experience. O2 finally admitted that they were throttling their customers across the EU due to “data roaming [that] surpassed all expectations” and that the throttling was a “temporary measure.” Not sure how temporary the measure would have been had the customer not run the test and reported his findings.
Twitter user Adam Temperton (@G1TWB) has a pretty good history of the complaints in his timeline. Gary Cooney (@fanofthetan) also posted a message between himself and O2 customer support on June 22 with O2 saying there are no restrictions while roaming in the EU. I guess they left off the part about throttling.
— gary cooney (@fanofthetan) July 27, 2017
Declining Margins Behind Throttling Decision?
O2’s decision to throttle roamers was far more likely to be financially driven than network driven. In a roaming scenario, the customer is not stressing the home network in any way, and O2 can’t “manage” the roaming partner’s network (even if they are both O2 networks as in this case).
Throttling of roamers is an active decision to reduce costs. The EU regulation puts operators in a bind in that the retail costs are fixed at zero, but the wholesale side still has costs that operators must pay. The wholesale rates are currently €7.75/GB, so limiting service to 3G definitely reduces the financial hit if a customer uses a lot of data in other EU countries.
Prior to the EU regulation, mobile operators typically charged roaming fees that were pegged to the wholesale costs, so their huge margins were protected. In the regulated environment, operators have an obvious incentive to pull stunts like this as a cost saving measure.
Hopefully, the EU and Ofcom will investigate this action and hit O2 with fines if it is confirmed that this was done in breach of the EU roaming regulations. Recommendation to EU residents – test out your carrier’s speeds while roaming. You might be surprised at what you find.
Is There A Carrier that won’t slow your Roam?
Just a reminder: There’s never any throttling with GigSky. You always get what you pay for in 180+ countries.
GigSky just introduced great new technology and new carrier partners which have enabled us to double the number of countries we cover, increase the amount of data in our plans, and to provide regional coverage. For example, customers will now be able to buy a plan for use throughout Europe, instead of buying a plan for each country they visit.
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