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Visitors Suffer Slower Mobile Broadband Speeds than UK Residents

Thursday, Jun 21st, 2018 (5:04 pm) - Score 1,271

A new crowd-sourced study of Mobile operator performance from Tutela has revealed that people who visit the UK (e.g. tourists) can expect to experience significantly slower Mobile Broadband (4G and 3G) speeds (average 10.25Mbps) than resident customers (18.15Mbps). The slowest operator for both is Three UK.

The research, which was carried out during May 2018 with a sample size of around 20,000 users per operator for the residents and 200 per operator for the visitors, is based on testing that was gathered by collecting anonymous usage data from the background of 1,500+ supporting Android and iOS based Smartphone apps.

The measured decrease for visitors of -44% is a significant difference and appears to lend some weight to the common belief that roaming performance is slower. As Tom Luke, VP of Tutela, told ISPreview.co.uk: “There are a number of factors that could be behind this drop, for example, some operators might prioritise domestic over foreign traffic and in some cases, data traffic can be routed through the users home country, adding delay.”


The EU’s new “Roam like at Home” regulations came into force on 15th June 2017 (here), which means that anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use data while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges, albeit with a few limits on data use).

However the new regulations also require that “the same tariff conditions apply for the use of mobile services while roaming abroad in the Union and at home” (here), although clearly some operators may not be upholding the spirit of those rules. Last year one report (example) noted that UK users on certain networks were similarly receiving slower data speeds while roaming outside of the UK (e.g. while holidaying in the EU).

The other interesting thing to note in Tutela’s data is that foreign visitors are getting better performance on other networks than Three UK’s own resident users. Ouch.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo TheFacts says:

    So we don’t know why. Another pointless report.

    1. Avatar photo Wujek Pawel says:

      We know why. It is about VPN between operators speed.

  2. Avatar photo Mike says:

    This study is dumb, when roaming all the data is piped back to your actual operator via VPN which is typically throttled (probably to restrict usage).

    Apportioning blame properly requires insider info.

  3. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    Whatever operator one is with, when roaming, speeds will always be slower. I’ve heard that it’s due to how much a roaming network will charge our home network. It’s not something that bothers me when I’m away.

Comments are closed

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