On another recent trip to Sweden, I decided to again test out roaming in a video that compares the experience between EE, Vodafone and Three.

This time I used the nPerf app, which does a lot more than just normal speed testing.

I recently made a video suggesting I’d be using an app called 4Gmark for future tests, but nPerf was recommended to me by the app developers directly, and upon doing some testing with each of them, I decided to switch to nPerf.

By all means check them both out yourself, but for me nPerf gives the results in a much more user-friendly way for showing in video and screen capture form. If you subscribe, you can also backup tests and sync across devices, which makes comparing results later even easier.

Although I was clearly not expecting any changes to Three’s Feel at Home service, the nPerf app provided excellent proof of the blocking in place that renders streaming impossible – even on lowly 240p video.

I then ran the same test on Three using a VPN, which – again no surprise – then allowed streaming to work, albeit with a large hit on overall data speed.

It becomes a case of deciding between speed and reliability, but if Feel at Home truly lived up to its name and was just like being at home, nobody would have to choose. I think it’s unfair that Three isn’t coming clean about the ‘cost’ of having free roaming, or that the same restrictions apply even if you’re paying £5 a day in an EU country that isn’t part of Feel at Home.

My EE (former Orange) account is 3G only so I couldn’t test 4G out (which I should stress would have been available if I was on a different contract), but even on 3G I had a more than satisfactory experience, and with no issues with streaming.

Vodafone did allow me 4G roaming and, boy, was the result impressive. That would be quite amazing at home, let alone roaming. What’s more, neither EE or Vodafone does anything to stop streaming, and – unlike Three – you can tether to other devices.

Download Upload Ping Streaming
EE 8.25Mbps 1.66Mbps 146ms Yes
Vodafone 120.96Mbps 7.36Mbps 143ms Yes
Three 14.20Mbps 1.09Mbps 169ms No
Three (VPN) 2.36Mbps 0.18Mbps 137ms Yes

This meant my four year old got to watch YouTube for Kids on a tablet when we travelled around by train, using a not insignificant 2GB of data by the end of our long weekend break.

Feel at Home may be free in some locations and £5/day elsewhere in Europe, compared to £3/day on Vodafone and various prices on EE depending on the add-on chosen, but the service is considerably poorer.

That’s not to say it’s useless, as email, Facebook, Twitter and many other services work okay (if a little slower than the speedtest results would suggest is possible) but it isn’t comparable to the service you can get on another network.

I still have people saying to me that maybe I’m just unlucky, and that maybe Three doesn’t restrict streaming everywhere. Well, the good news is that now there’s an app that everyone can use to test their network out. Given Feel at Home means using the app will cost nothing, Three users in particular have nothing to lose.

Please download the nPerf app and let me know your results. (iOS users download nPerf here)

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Written by Jonathan Morris

Writing about technology, with a focus on mobile, since the early 1990s! Former editor of What Mobile magazine, writer for The Telegraph, Stuff, Know Your Mobile, Pocket Gamer, Smart TV Radar and more. Regular Tweeter, occasional YouTuber, keen amateur photographer and forum moderator. If you like what I write, please consider deactivating your ad blocker or making a donation via PayPal to help fund this site.

2 comments

  1. I used NPerf the other week in Houston Texas, got these results:

    Network Download Upload Streaming PR Browsing Performance Rating

    T-Mobile (HSPA+) 9.06 mb/s 0.43 mb/s 0 (zero) 34.01

    Those are the typical results I get for “Feel at Home” all over the USA and they are repeatable all day every day. I’ve tried different phones, different networks and different locations but it makes no difference (stick in a local T-Mobile SIM and then it works just fine, of course)

    Don’t let that initial download speed fool you – the actual download speed you get in an app (Google maps, a browser etc) is around 100k if you are lucky. You can’t use Google maps in a car unless you download the area in advance as the network doesn’t keep up. And you can forget about streaming via Google Music! The service is *good* for voice and texts and picking up email. It’s *terrible* for everything else. The “Feel at home” name is a con and one of the industry watchdogs should be doing something about it by now.

    Like

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