Monday 20 November 2017

Vodafone Ireland denies downgrading pay-as-you-go customers when roaming in EU

One reader complained: 'It was practically impossible to use Facebook or Twitter'

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Vodafone Ireland has denied reducing its pay-as-you-go customers' data speeds when roaming in other EU countries.

Readers have contacted Independent.ie complaining that their Vodafone mobile access has been curtailed from 4G to 3G when travelling abroad, despite a new EU law requiring operators to abide by the ‘roam like home’ principle.

Under Vodafone’s terms and conditions for prepay users, 4G is not provided to pay-as-you-go customers when they roam. The company also warns that roaming is not to be considered a “core” service for pay-as-you-go users.

However, a spokeswoman for the network told Independent.ie that these terms were currently being reviewed. She said that Vodafone pay-as-you-go users with 4G in Ireland should get access to 4G where available in other EU countries.

The explanation comes as people increasingly complain about their phone services being ‘throttled’ when travelling across the EU.

In July, British operator O2 admitted that it throttles data speeds for UK customers travelling to Ireland. Another UK operator, EE, also says that the data speeds its travelling customers get are “likely to be slower than in the UK and fast enough to use your phone as you normally would”. Many EE customers now complain that their roaming speeds are under two megabits per second, which is less than 10pc of a normal 4G speed at home.

Vodafone Ireland’s 4G subscriptions connect at speeds as low as 0.7Mbs in German cities, despite getting up to 100Mbs in Irish cities.

“I was abroad recently and the data services were just about usable for email and a couple of news updates, but forget about any kind of streaming or any kind of use that involves data,” one reader emailed us. “It was practically impossible to use Facebook or Twitter.”

Earlier this year, the European Commission admonished Vodafone’s biggest competitor, 3 Ireland, when it attempted to get around EU roaming rules by claiming that only a small portion of data was “core”, while the bulk of its “all you can eat” data was “non core”. The operator had to reverse course and offer more data to its customers.

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