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UK Roaming Experience


iansltx

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I'm currently on the light rail to the Edinburgh airport, ending a few days in the UK. Figure now's as good a time as any to post my experiences while using Global Roaming here. Note that my experience covers only London-Heathrow and Edinburgh between the airport and the Holyrood building, with a little bit of north-south in there. Used my Essential Phone for this.

The most important bit first: Global Roaming includes tethering, and works on LTE in the UK! Traffic is proxied through Omaha so there's a significant latency penalty but calling via Duo (audio and video) worked fine wherever I had a decent signal. I did a few speed tests throughout the trip, but this one at the base of Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile was the best one: Check out my Speedtest result! How fast is your internet? https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/a/4318190569

I was on O2 effectively the entire time; I saw Vodafone once on GPRS (!) but otherwise it was a crapshoot whether I had service indoors, despite 800 MHz being available on the network and my phone (B20). I saw a mix of B1 and B20 in Edinburgh, plus some B3 at Heathrow. I saw HSPA (still O2) once on the trip from the airport. Point being, you'll want a phone that does B20 to get reasonable LTE coverage when roaming in the UK with Sprint.

Judicious use of the fact that day passes are a full 24 hours meant that three day passes got me enough high speed data to cover my needs for my four day trip (I didn't need high speed data this morning due to plenty of WiFi). Sprint would text me any time my pass expired with a link to the international portal where I could buy another pass. The first text from the came a few minutes after connecting to O2 after landing in Heathrow, including a notification that calls (of which I made none) would be 20 cents per minute.

All in all not a bad experience. Could've been better if Vodafone roaming had been on LTE, or if EE had been a roaming partner, but I'm sure the latter would be a pipe dream given that they're by far the best network in the UK.

EDIT: O2 is down to WCDMA/H+ in the Edinburgh airport. WiFi is available though so I just used that.

EDIT 2: Caught Band 40 while sitting on the plane about to depart from Heathrow. Sorry, not spending $5 to figure out how fast it is, though even in slow mode it's pretty snappy.

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14 hours ago, iansltx said:

I'm currently on the light rail to the Edinburgh airport, ending a few days in the UK. Figure now's as good a time as any to post my experiences while using Global Roaming here. Note that my experience covers only London-Heathrow and Edinburgh between the airport and the Holyrood building, with a little bit of north-south in there. Used my Essential Phone for this.

The most important bit first: Global Roaming includes tethering, and works on LTE in the UK! Traffic is proxied through Omaha so there's a significant latency penalty but calling via Duo (audio and video) worked fine wherever I had a decent signal. I did a few speed tests throughout the trip, but this one at the base of Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile was the best one: Check out my Speedtest result! How fast is your internet? https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/a/4318190569

I was on O2 effectively the entire time; I saw Vodafone once on GPRS (!) but otherwise it was a crapshoot whether I had service indoors, despite 800 MHz being available on the network and my phone (B20). I saw a mix of B1 and B20 in Edinburgh, plus some B3 at Heathrow. I saw HSPA (still O2) once on the trip from the airport. Point being, you'll want a phone that does B20 to get reasonable LTE coverage when roaming in the UK with Sprint.

Judicious use of the fact that day passes are a full 24 hours meant that three day passes got me enough high speed data to cover my needs for my four day trip (I didn't need high speed data this morning due to plenty of WiFi). Sprint would text me any time my pass expired with a link to the international portal where I could buy another pass. The first text from the came a few minutes after connecting to O2 after landing in Heathrow, including a notification that calls (of which I made none) would be 20 cents per minute.

All in all not a bad experience. Could've been better if Vodafone roaming had been on LTE, or if EE had been a roaming partner, but I'm sure the latter would be a pipe dream given that they're by far the best network in the UK.

EDIT: O2 is down to WCDMA/H+ in the Edinburgh airport. WiFi is available though so I just used that.

EDIT 2: Caught Band 40 while sitting on the plane about to depart from Heathrow. Sorry, not spending $5 to figure out how fast it is, though even in slow mode it's pretty snappy.

Thanks for sharing.  We are heading to london tomorrow.  I'm going to purchase the 25 bucks a week for high speed lte. I have a note 8. Hopefully it works great.  I'll post here on my journey for the week.

 

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  • 5 months later...

Forgot to share this earlier. EE Network in London on Essential PH-1. This was with a prepaid Sim card. Fastest LTE speds if ever seen in person. EE is the only carrier in the UK that Sprint doesn't have a roaming agreement with. They are known as the fastest and most coverage carrier there. 6c04c301c325b08726a7a7117592b26d.jpg

Sent from my PH-1 using Tapatalk

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  • 4 months later...

My LG G6 only supports Band 3, so I'm spending a fair amount of time on HSPA when Band 3 LTE is unavailable.  That said, service is generally good.  I've only connected to O2 as far as I can tell, though I've only been in London at this point.

My wife's LG G7 does support Bands 1 and 20 and she has seen those in places.

Tomorrow we'll be making the first trip outside London and we'll see what happens.

- Trip

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I paid for the week long data pass when I was in the UK, after about 6 GB of transfer over a few days, the speed went back to around 0.6 Mbps. The included no charge roaming was around 0.12 Mbps.

This was not mentioned anywhere that there was a transfer limit on the data pass. After a week, I changed to the daily pass, cost more, but was more usable. The high latency wasn't good.

Next time I shall use a local SIM.

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I paid for the week long data pass when I was in the UK, after about 6 GB of transfer over a few days, the speed went back to around 0.6 Mbps. The included no charge roaming was around 0.12 Mbps.
This was not mentioned anywhere that there was a transfer limit on the data pass. After a week, I changed to the daily pass, cost more, but was more usable. The high latency wasn't good.
Next time I shall use a local SIM.
Good info. I was wondering if there was a limit on the "unlimited" high speed roaming data.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

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At a hotel near Heathrow; flying out in the morning.  The end result of my trip is that essentially, I was on HSPA from Reading on west.  I had some LTE east of Reading, such as in Windsor.  I guess O2 doesn't have Band 3 LTE running in most places outside of London and the immediate surrounding areas yet.

I'll be looking through the data SCP picked up on my wife's phone after we're home, I think.

- Trip

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One final comment on my UK visit, as I'm home now.  Yesterday, at Heathrow, my LG G6 picked up Band 7 LTE from Vodafone, but no data would pass through it at all.  My phone claimed I had no Internet connection.  It'd drop down to Vodafone HSPA after a while, which also would not pass any data, before reconnecting to Band 7.

- Trip

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  • 2 years later...

Looks like T-Mobile has changed roaming partners a bit. Maybe expanded them. Currently sitting on B7 LTE on EE while sitting on the ground at LHR. Was on B3 earlier.

Am also able to connect to Vodafone, but speeds were miserably slow so I pushed my phone back to EE (which is considered to be the best LTE network in the UK anyway).

A coworker here grabbed me a 3 SIM so I should be able to see what 5G here looks like on the best network for it according to Ookla (the only one with 100 MHz TD NR AFAIK). But of course that's unrelated to Sprint roaming.

Glad that $5 unlimited day passes exist either way; makes holding onto my TNA SIM worthwhile, even with the 200ms latency penalty of backhauling through Omaha.

 

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Correction: stuff's now backhauling through Chicago rather than Omaha, so we're talking about only a 120ms latency penalty rather than double that...so, basically what you get on Visible in the States 😛

Annoyingly, the Three SIM I had my friend pick up won't do 5G in my phone. The firmware that switches on when I throw that SIM in doesn't include n78 in band selection. And, to add insult to injury, CA works just as well on Three with a native SIM as it does when roaming on EE with my Sprint SIM. That is to say, it doesn't.

Which means that Three on native is slower than Sprint on roaming, as EE has 20x20 of both B7 and B3 to play with. So, unless I get throttled for some reason, my Sprint SIM is staying in my phone for the rest of this trip.

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...and I've now found a place where my phone will hop onto O2 B3. Only 5x5, at least the channel I'm on, but better to have a usable signal than nothing in here, and it seemed like EE wasn't quite able to reach consistently.

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  • 11 months later...

Welp, TNX international roaming is still borked for me. I can get the low-speed roaming, but can't log into T-Mobile to get day/week passes, nor can I buy Sprint day passes. Which is all the more awkward because the TMB CSC on my S22 allows n78, so I can get EE 5G...throttled to a near standstill. The US Mobile eSIM I grabbed and the 3 physical SIM both use XAA so n78 isn't available.

Girlfriend's Pixel 7 seems to be getting 5G on 3 at least...

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I was in London the last week of January and had no issues on my business iPhone.  Free unlimited international roaming data speeds (256Kbps) and free texts were perfectly acceptable for everything I used it for and I did not have to do anything to enable it.  It just worked after I landed, turned on my phone, and got the text from T-Mobile stating it was enabled.  Calls are $0.20 per minute whether you make them or receive them.  I did not make or receive any calls so I did not use that.

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