Irish tourists get faster mobile download speeds in EU than at home

21 Feb 2019

Image: © twinsterphoto/

New research into download speeds when travelling through Europe shows Ireland is one of the few to actually benefit from roaming.

When the EU introduced legislation that meant telecoms providers in all member states had to offer roaming prices the same as those found in a user’s home country, many a holidaymaker rejoiced. However, behind the scenes, these mobile network operators had to strike deals with competitors to facilitate this, resulting in massive trade-offs in download data speeds.

According to a new report produced by Ookla, most European residents – not just including the EU – experience a significant reduction in their average download speed when travelling to other countries. This depends not only on the country of origin, but also the country of destination and the plan a subscriber has selected.

The worst affected are those from the Czech Republic, where their average download speed of 44.91Mbps drops by as much as 70pc to an average speed of just 13.43Mbps. Also badly affected are those from Luxembourg, who see a 50.7pc reduction from 50.91Mbps to 25.08Mbps when abroad.

Good news for Ireland

However, not all nations find themselves worse off, including Ireland, which is one of 10 countries where average speeds actually increase when connected to roaming. The figures show that while Ireland’s average download speed is 28.23Mbps at home, this jumps by 11.6pc to 31.49Mbps on average abroad.

While the average home figure for Ireland matches quite closely with what Irish people get in their neighbouring UK (26.63Mbps), Irish people in Germany see a huge increase to 40.23Mbps. On the other end of the scale, those travelling to Italy see their speed more than halved to 12.73Mbps.

While their time in the EU is coming to an end, the UK is the largest benefactor from roaming speeds, showing an increase of 25.7pc abroad from 30.84Mbps to 38.76Mbps.

Due to the fact that roaming signals are routed through a smartphone user’s home network, latency is also a major factor in determining download speeds. Ookla’s research showed that the average latency in Ireland is 34 milliseconds, compared with 114 milliseconds abroad.

But spare a thought for Cyprus travellers, who see their latency shoot up by 870pc from 20 milliseconds at home to 194 milliseconds abroad.

Updated, 4.20pm, 21 February 2019: This article was updated to provide correct figures for Ireland’s average roaming speed abroad (31.49Mbps) and the average speed Irish people receive when in the UK specifically (26.63Mbps).

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic