Just over two months ago was the momentous day when the EU's ban on obscene roaming charges came into effect. That meant anyone, regardless of which network they were on, could use their allowances within the EU without being charged extra. Unfortunately EE customers are accusing the network of some shenanigans, because they're reportedly getting pathetically slow speeds.
In a document outlining data roaming for EE pay monthly customers is the following block of text:
If you have any plan other than an EE 4GEE Max plan you will get our standard roaming data speeds when in the EU. This is likely to be slower than in the UK and fast enough to use your phone as you normally would, including streaming music and standard definition video (or better).
If you want access to faster speeds you will be able to buy one of our Max plans or a speed add-on (where available). If you are on an EE 4GEE Max Plan you’ll get access to the fastest available speeds when abroad.
For those that don't know 4GEE Max is what EE calls its premium tier tariffs, which offer lots of perks like increased top speeds (over the standard 60MBps) a free subscription to the BT Sport app, and before 15th June it even offered free EU roaming.
But this little paragraph means that won't get getting the same speeds you would at home. That sounds reasonable enough when you think about it, though. The network you connect to in a different country might not offer speeds as fast as you're used to here. Plus using mobile data requires your host network to act as intermediary between your phone and the network you use back home - obviously that isn't likely to speed things up.
The issue here is that EE customers are complaining that their speeds are limited to sub 2Mbps, unless they're paying extra. As the document says, if you're on EE's 4GEE Max plan you get to use faster speeds abroad - one of the perks of the premium tariff.
I can tell you now, trying to get my head round EE's different 4G bands isn't the easiest thing in the world. A fact that isn't helped when they call 4GEE Max 4G+ on the store pages. But more to the point, 4GEE Max only seems to be available on 24 month contracts that come with a premium phone. iPhones, Samsung Galaxys, Pixels, and so on. They also come with the aforementioned perks so the extra price isn't just to benefit your foreign download speeds.
If you do not have a 4GEE Max Plan you don't have to deal with rubbish roaming speeds. But it'll cost you. It's just not clear how much. I've been doing some digging and can't find any information about adding extra speed to your tariff, especially not outside of the UK. BT Mobile offers a £4-a-month add-on that bumps your maximum speed to 60MBps, though since this appears to be the standard advertised speed for a 4GEE tariff with EE.
There are a few tweets out there complaining about the situation, though it's not quite a widespread thing. Most tweets about EE's roaming seemed too be people asking if it really is free. Still it's not a good situation for any network to find themselves in.
— Jeff Bartrop (@jeffbartrop) July 30, 2017
— Nigel Jones (@planetf1) July 27, 2017
— Konstantinos Pavlou (@KPavlouInc) June 17, 2017
@EE I'm in Cyprus at the minute, why am I limited to 2mbps on MTN 4G when locals get 30mbps+ here? Free EU roaming = limited data roaming?
— Rich Bishop (@richbishop) August 12, 2017
Everytime I've been to Spain I've had 3/4g and been stung with roaming charges. Now there aren't any charges, no 3G coverage. Sort it out EE
— Dan Nolan (@Dan_Nolan) July 26, 2017
It's not the first network to face criticism though. O2 has admitted to throttling roaming speeds "as a temporary measure", Three has yet to activate 4G for customers in the EU, and The Register also reports that Vodafone customers have been complaining about their download speeds as well.
I've contacted EE for comment, and will update this when I hear back. [The Register]