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Europe saw increased roaming speeds, Estonia came as the biggest winner with a 55% gain


As countries reopen, travel is expected to pick up with people using their phones abroad more than they did during the severe lockdowns. Unfortunately, they should expect a slower download speed while roaming.

Roaming (using a mobile phone on another operator’s network) outside your home country is still slower than browsing the net at home. During Q1 2021, 19 out of the 26 European countries with statistically viable roaming sample sizes experienced slower median roaming download speeds than median local download speeds, a speed test by Ookla showed.

For example, the local download speed in Denmark was 50.11 Mbps and only 22.18 Mbps when browsing abroad. In the Netherlands, the local download speed was 77.52 Mbps and fell to 26.48 Mbps while roaming. Bulgarians experienced a 51,8% drop in download speed when roaming.

Users from 7 European countries experienced increased download speeds when using the internet abroad. Latvia saw an increase of 23.4% when roaming elsewhere in Europe. It was closely followed by Estonia (22.8%) and Ireland (19.5%).

Looking at the year-to-year statistics, roaming speeds for all European countries combined increased 6.9% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. Customers in 17 out of the 26 countries analyzed saw faster download speeds while roaming elsewhere in Europe when comparing Q1 2020 to Q1 2021.

Estonians saw the most significant increase at 51.5% (from 27.82 Mbps to 42.16 Mbps), the Netherlands was next with a 44.0% jump (from 18.39 Mbps to 26.48 Mbps), and Luxembourg saw a 39.8% increase in download speed (from 18.82 Mbps to 26.31 Mbps).

Countries whose customers experienced year-over-year decreases in median downloads speed while roaming include Slovakia (20.0% decrease), Italy (19.7%), Ireland (18.9%), Greece (13.5%), the U.K. (4.7%), Germany (2.9%), Czechia (2.4%), Finland (1.6%), and Portugal (0.2%).

Even though in many countries roaming speed increased throughout the year, the increase was not linear. Therefore, this does not necessarily mean that browsing abroad will be faster than a year ago. Many factors come into play here. For example, roaming speeds are heavily dependent on agreements between individual operators, which means they can vary dramatically by country and operator, Ookla’s experts argue.

Here were some of the fastest roaming speeds from select countries to other countries within Europe between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021:

  • Netherlands to France (70.46 Mbps in Q1 2021)
  • Bulgaria to the U.K. (58.21 Mbps in Q4 2020)
  • Netherlands to Poland (55.77 Mbps in Q1 2021)
  • Denmark to Sweden (40.46 Mbps in Q4 2020)
  • Finland to Estonia (48.41 Mbps in Q1 2020)

Here were some of the slowest roaming speeds between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021:

  • Germany to Portugal (0.42 Mbps in Q3 2020)
  • Czechia to France (4.98 Mbps in Q3 2020)
  • France to Portugal (5.54 Mbps in Q3 2020)
  • Hungary to France (5.95 Mbps in Q3 2020)
  • Poland to Belgium (7.59 Mbps in Q1 2020)

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