O2 UK admitted to deliberately throttling data speeds across Europe, after customers began to use 4G services in the bloc following the abolishment of roaming charges last month.
In comments made to The Register, a company spokesperson said the operator had put the temporary measure in place “to protect the service experience for customers roaming in the EU”, and cope with rising demand.
O2 added that European mobile networks impose “traffic shaping and throttling measures” to protect services, and ensure that at least some bandwidth is available for everyone, “particularly when people stress a network with data usage”.
The spokesperson said it was “working to have these controls removed within the coming weeks”.
Roaming fees across Europe were abolished across EU-member countries on 15 June, after the policy was signed off in April. O2 UK said in May that its customers would be able to use their UK plans in 47 European countries (including some non-EU countries Iceland, Monaco and Switzerland) at no extra cost – from the same date as the fees were abolished.
However, the company came under fire shortly after the move.
The Register reported the issue first came to light after a customer complained on the company’s network support forum.
Within a month of the abolishment of the charges, the customer said he was unable to use 4G services, achieving speeds of 0.5Mb/s in Dublin, Ireland.
After carrying out tests on other networks, he concluded that O2 was the worst operator for data roaming.
“I’m appalled that it’s throttled so badly and it’s shocking that 4G isn’t available,” he wrote.
Virgin Mobile customers made a similar complaint about their roaming experience on the continent, added The Register.