Today 15th June 2017, the EU law to allow you to use your mobile like you do at home comes into force - no roaming charges - this is great news for the consumer and takes away some of the unknown when using your phone abroad. Sort of.

Full info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_roaming_regulations

If you exceed your data allowance, you are going to be charged - on the face of it a "wholesale" cost of data might seem insignificant - maybe 6c or 6p per MB. Watch a film on Netflix at standard definition and it will cost you EUR42 in data. Watch it in HD and you'll be looking at 4 times that. Games of Thrones is good but is it worth EUR200 per episode!!

Another consideration for people travelling to Portugal from the UK and roaming etc is the quality of the mobile 4G is superior to your home network - here 4G connections are regularly 30-40Mbps and potentially alot higher - an unintended side effect of this is when you watch a video on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc your device will often negotiate the "best" video quality available. At home you might be watching videos at 360fps, here with the superior internet speeds you might be watch in it 720p or Full HD and your "home" data allowance that normally lasts you a month might be eaten up in a handful of days. Where possible always double check the quality of the video stream.

We think these new rules might catch people out so make sure you set data alerts on your phones and 3G 4G mifi devices whilst holidaying in Portugal and throughout the EU. Also make sure you read the small print of your "unlimited" deals, logic says that your home provider cannot foot the bill for your "unlimited" data usage abroad so there is going to be a cap - it might be 100GB, is might be 15GB, who knows but you will want to find out as you'll be charged for something you thought was included in your bill.

 

Updated:

from the EU website (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/roaming)

"If a person has unlimited calls and SMS, he/she will get unlimited calls and SMS when roaming in the EU. However if a person has unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data at home, his operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If so, the operator will have to inform the customer in advance about such a limit and alert them when they reach this limit.

The EU rules ensure that such a roaming data limit should cover the normal usage patterns of most travellers. If a person reaches the limit, he/she can continue to use data roaming for a very small fee: up to 7.7€/GB + VAT"

"Small Fee" - so 30GB of data would cost you EUR231+VAT so lets call it EUR280. Yikes. Calls and SMS cost the network operators peanuts (as it all converted to "data" anyway), people now rely on their phones/tablets for internet connectivity and instant messaging so this EU ruling seems a little behind the times already.

If you need a Data SIM  for your business trip or holiday and dont need the headache of working out whats happens to your data allowance then we have SIMs available here http://algarve-connect.com/index.php/4g-data-and-voice-sim-cards/portugal-4g-3g-mobile-internet-sim-card-meo-inc-300mb-pay-as-you-go-detail

 

 

Recently we had an oppourtunity to carry out a 3-provider 4G network internet speed test in the Vilamoura, Algarve. Originally a client contacted us with intermittent 4G mobile broadband network connectivity on his MIFI device (TP-LINK M7350)- we recommended the installation of a 4G antenna to boost the signal and improve both speed and reliability - with an unlocked 4G router (Dlink DWR-921) this also enabled us to test all three 4G Portuguese network providers (NOS, Vodafone Portugal and MEO).

Those familiar with the ins and outs of mobile broadband in Portugal (especially the Algarve) will know that some providers internet service can be especially poor - these results should be of great interest to those consider a change of 4G network provider. Where this is not a "lab environment" we think this is a a reasonably solid test of the actual network performance and speed:
i) all tests conducted at the same time of day (approx 2200-0000)
ii) same 4G mobile broadband router in use (DLINK DWR-921) sited in the same position for all tests.
iii) same 4G MIFI router in use (TP-LINK M7350) sited in the same position for all tests.
iv) same 3G/4G antenna in use (directional panel antenna) sited in the same external position for all tests.
v) same speed test website used for all tests (www.speedtest.net)
vi) 4G technologies available in the location from all networks (specific provider edge technology unknown as always)

Here are the results:

 (values in Mbps)

Vodafone

MEO

NOS

MIFI

 8 DL / 3 UL

 10 DL / 8 UL

 4 DL / 1 UL

Router

 15 DL / 12 UL

 19 DL / 14 UL

 9 DL / 1 UL

With Antenna

 39 DL / 21 UL

 32 DL / 22 UL

 15 DL / 1 UL



A couple of takeaways here, and these all fail in line with our real life experience of providing solutions on the various Portugal 4G networks.
i) NOS as well as lagging in all the speed test provide a constant 1Mbps upload speed regardless of the signal quality/speed improvements seen in the download speed - this is obviously a by design traffic shaping profile running on the local cell.
ii) The test time period in use was not exactly prime time for number of 4G users using the local mast or the core networks - so we could expect these internet speed figures to drop and/or fluctuate at busier periods. Again BAD NEWS for NOS who seem to be struggling at all times..
iii) There is an obvious improvement with the installation of an antenna on all networks.

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