Measuring Roaming in Europe: Infrastructure and Implications on Users QoE

Andra Lutu, Martino Trevisan, Ali Safari Khatouni, Anna Maria Mandalari, Ana Custura, Marco Mellia, Ozgu Alay, Marcelo Bagnulo, Vaibhav Bajpai, Anna Brunstrom, Jorg Ott, Godred Fairhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"Roam like Home" is the initiative of the European Commission to end the levy of extra charges when roaming within the European region. As a result, people can use data services more freely across Europe. However, the implications of roaming solutions on network performance have not been carefully examined yet. This paper provides an in-depth characterization of the implications of international data roaming within Europe. We build a unique roaming measurement platform using 16 different mobile networks deployed in 6 countries across Europe. Using this platform, we measure different aspects of international roaming in 4G networks in Europe, including mobile network configuration, performance characteristics, and quality of experience. We find that operators adopt a common approach to implement roaming called Home-routed roaming. This results in additional latency penalties of 60 ms or more, depending on geographical distance. This leads to worse browsing performance, with an increase in the metrics related to Quality of Experience (QoE) of users (Page Load time and Speed Index) in the order of 15-20%. We further analyze the impact of latency on QoE metrics in isolation and find that the penalty imposed by Home Routing leads to degradation on QoE metrics up to 150% in case of intercontinental roaming. We make our dataset public to allow reproducing the results.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2021


  • Europe
  • Home automation
  • IP networks
  • Mobile computing
  • Mobile nodes
  • Quality of experience
  • Servers


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