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Local vs Roaming – UK and EU Mobile Broadband Speeds Compared

Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2023 (12:00 am) - Score 2,472
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Ookla, which operates the popular internet Speedtest.net benchmarking service, has published the results of an interesting new study that examines how mobile broadband (4G and 5G) performance (i.e. downloads and latency) differs between local vs roaming connectivity across the United Kingdom and European Union.

Interestingly, residents from 17 countries showed faster local download speeds than roaming speeds when considering results over all technologies during Q2 2023. The 11 exceptions were Romania, Belgium, Hungary, Estonia, the UK, Greece, and Spain, which all showed faster roaming speeds, and Latvia, Malta, Ireland, and Italy, which showed only slightly improved speeds.

However, the situation did change a bit when only looking at 5G connections, which found that 20 countries showed faster local 5G download speeds than roaming 5G speeds during Q2 2023. Customers from Italy roaming in Portugal saw one of the fastest median roaming download speeds over 5G in all of Europe at 317.94 Mbps.

Looking at the highest results from all technologies combined, Latvians roaming in Finland experienced the fastest median download speed of 137.49Mbps. On the other end of the scale, Slovakian visitors to Poland had one of the slowest median download speeds over all technologies while roaming during the same time period at 10.82Mbps. Polish roamers also saw a median download speed of 13.27Mbps in the UK and 14.78 Mbps in Romania.

Overall, ten of the 20 slowest roaming speeds on Ookla’s country-by-country list for all technologies were for Europeans roaming in the UK. “This means that travellers going to the U.K are not only seeing poorer performance, they could also be paying more for the privilege as they do not benefit from “Roam Like at Home” regulations,” said the study.

Germans in Italy had the slowest median 5G download speed on the list during Q2 2023 at 33.64Mbps, while Austrians in the UK saw a median download speed over 5G of 41.57 Mbps.

NOTE: DL = ‘Download’ below and the scores are all in Megabits per second (Mbps) – average median speeds.

Median Mobile Roaming Performance in Europe

Country Local DL Roaming DL Local 5G DL Roaming 5G DL
Austria 59.28 42.77 161.00 80.51
Belgium 48.00 59.86 157.23 124.64
Bulgaria 78.27 48.97 252.75 93.24
Croatia 73.65 47.86 184.29 124.38
Cyprus 56.93 40.83 197.22 64.24
Czechia 46.50 31.96 104.36 72.26
Denmark 118.48 51.74 206.95 115.82
Estonia 64.99 77.51 * *
Finland 78.00 53.43 217.13 106.54
France 61.64 43.46 187.42 95.56
Germany 46.30 39.54 114.07 84.27
Greece 57.41 66.17 143.26 153.28
Hungary 40.44 48.28 85.12 132.98
Ireland 34.49 36.10 98.70 85.38
Italy 36.97 37.68 130.85 99.38
Latvia 59.73 65.13 220.51 146.15
Lithuania 64.70 53.04 * *
Luxembourg 74.86 46.88 * *
Malta 44.56 48.11 109.97 110.80
Netherlands 96.77 37.61 128.04 87.84
Poland 42.14 34.23 78.82 99.51
Portugal 57.86 39.91 212.95 79.88
Romania 43.34 59.59 153.35 99.84
Slovakia 43.16 41.53 139.53 85.16
Slovenia 52.73 49.86 145.83 95.50
Spain 32.33 35.77 85.75 116.48
Sweden 84.00 51.24 160.93 129.43
United Kingdom 40.74 48.06 108.74 98.92

However, a much bigger gap tends to present itself when examining network latency, which reflects the response time of online servers in milliseconds (i.e. lower figures are faster). Residents of every country surveyed had a much higher multi-server latency when roaming, which is to be expected because of the extra routing that goes into confirming and operating a roaming connection.

The difference was smallest in Italy and France, where locals had about a 97% higher latency when roaming compared to at home. Now on the surface that might actually seem like a lot, but residents of Cyprus saw over a 615% higher latency while roaming compared to at home.

NOTE: ms = ‘miliseconds’ below.

Median Mobile Roaming Multi-Server Latency in Europe

Country Local (ms) Roaming (ms) Local 5G (ms) Roaming 5G (ms)
Austria 32.19 91.24 30.96 111.08
Belgium 36.51 84.96 31.89 67.61
Bulgaria 31.72 125.60 26.41 124.63
Croatia 39.03 85.25 35.96 80.37
Cyprus 27.90 200.18 23.52 184.68
Czechia 34.72 80.18 30.77 78.72
Denmark 29.47 94.77 28.08 81.85
Estonia 33.10 87.00 * *
Finland 33.67 102.84 32.16 99.14
France 46.97 92.61 44.39 87.49
Germany 41.78 87.19 39.07 77.57
Greece 38.16 137.29 34.63 132.91
Hungary 36.27 85.39 35.06 77.26
Ireland 36.21 116.62 31.70 118.47
Italy 50.87 100.20 49.96 93.87
Latvia 29.88 101.91 26.28 94.70
Lithuania 34.03 107.79 * *
Luxembourg 33.45 67.70 * *
Malta 47.44 146.57 38.69 135.43
Netherlands 33.24 83.25 31.17 79.81
Poland 42.41 108.69 40.25 100.36
Portugal 35.98 123.05 31.62 126.54
Romania 40.65 122.91 34.22 121.21
Slovakia 30.47 80.28 26.39 70.96
Slovenia 30.61 76.68 27.70 75.27
Spain 51.53 112.81 47.11 102.94
Sweden 37.52 114.69 32.97 99.48
United Kingdom 50.45 111.01 46.04 107.59
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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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10 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ish says:

    I’ve consistently had faster roaming speeds in Europe than I do in the UK, albeit I do live in London where network congestion is likely far higher.

    1. Avatar photo Rr-the-it-guy says:

      I agree every time I roam I actually get good speeds better reliability overall better signal lower latency and a lot less instability issues, when I was in France last week I did over 1000KM of driving and I had French operators in the UK side of the eurotunnel, are British Telecoms operators so bad they can’t even do that?

      I have a stack of speed tests from both sides and I barely got 4/G let anyone any 5 I mainly saw 3G in the UK

      I also found out via the Vodafone partner portal that they don’t allow 5G roaming and saw this first hand.

      E.G. in France in a rural location with literally no one around on 4G 2Mbps down 10UP and Uk I would get less than 2 either way.

      The cities over 100Mbps on 4G in France in the UK I have seen pushing 30 in London.

      Whatever the Orange, SFR, FREE, and Bouygues telecom are doing is absolutely right, blanket coverage on a bigger country with faster speeds constantly, let’s bring that to the UK EE, THREE, Vodafone, O2 don’t have any of the above, EE may be the closest for consistency from what I have seen, but either way it’s still not good enough

    2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      The reason France do better on mobile signals is, I suspect, the same as the reason they have generally better rail and better roads – because nimbyism doesn’t have a chokehold on development.

      In the UK, nimbysim (and often self righteous niybyism) has become the second religion after the NHS. planners will block masts for spurious reasons of protecting a view that’s often has no special characteristics, or in a preservation area (although ugly street furniture or CCTV cameras are always fine). Likewise developments of UK road, rail, airports, mines, power stations, even housing all cause howls of anguish, have never ending public enquiries, judicial reviews and environmental impact assessments. The land is despoiled by national park status, AONB designations, by endless listed buildings, and the country clings to a rose-tinted view of the past. As a nation we simultaneously bemoan the lack of progress, and actively obstruct it at every opportunity. Good luck changing that.

    3. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

      I am Poland now with my O2 mobile:
      Plus: https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/a/9439062809
      T-Mobile: https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/a/9450510865
      Same in Netherlands and in Belgium. I’ve never seen more than 120Mbps down in the UK.

    4. Avatar photo says:

      It’s a very similar situation in Ireland with just 5G and 4G coverage nearly everywhere I go. Driving through rural areas I barely ever saw a 3G connection.

    5. Avatar photo Dave says:

      @10BaseT – look at that latency though, i believe a lot of carriers on the continent prioritise speed over latency (which is probably a good thing for most people), UK in my limited experience seems to have orders of magnitude lower latency with lower speeds.

    6. Avatar photo x_term says:

      sometimes it’s far more complicated than that sadly, with roaming there’s a ton of legacy stuff and a horrible number of tunnels inside tunnels like IPX… EE for example doesn’t have VoLTE abroad in all the countries I’ve been to… presumably because they don’t have IPv6 in roaming and the IMS is full IPv6.

    7. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

      x_term: I don’t think IPv6 is needed for VoLTE or VoWiFi. O2 for sure has VoWiFi and VoLTE in PL and there is no IPv6 either.

  2. Avatar photo dontcare says:

    It’s showing how rubbish UK are. We know who to blame! All those clowns at parliament MPs!

    1. Avatar photo Hamza Iqbal says:

      Those parasites you find in Westminster, Whitehall and every town council bleeding the tax payers dry. No long-term planning, ambition or desire to see the country succeed or deliver value for money when spending our taxes. This country needs a revolution but I expect many people are too busy feeding off the decaying host.

Comments are closed

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