Romania Mobile Operators: Vodafone vs Orange vs Telekom

As I was recently in a position to switch my subscription around (and having using at times 2 operators at the same time) I’ve decided to write down some impressions (subjective). Be warned, much like other reviews, I do not draw a conclusion, which is quite sad because this is the result of my own search for decent service and I wasn’t able to definitely find one. Instead, I found heavy trade-offs.

What I am looking for to compare: subscription benefits (at comparable costs), customer service quality, mobile web/app usability, data speeds, voice quality.

My personal constraints: good mobile app (for account management), I travel much less now but I would appreciate a good data deal in roaming but my coverage requirements revolve around large cities, good support (as a techie, I do tend to run into uncommon use cases and having people to talk to is nice).

Subscription benefits

Vodafone: pretty great on the level > 10 EUR/month, you get some 20Gb of data which turns unlimited at the 14 EUR mark, nice roaming allocation that starts at ~6 Gb and jumps 1.5Gb for each price bracket. You also get a base of 600 international voice minutes, which jump to 1000 and finally unlimited on the 25 EUR bracket. As a bonus you also get 6 months of HBO Go. Sadly, it’s impossible to find what bonus they give you to switch to them.

score: 5

Orange: publicly it roughly matches Vodafone, but they always count the traffic (though on the 14 EUR mark they go over 100Gb if you count some bonuses that they advertise so I would count it on par with unlimited). The catch, however, is that when I inquired about switching over to them, I was given an offer that didn’t match what they advertise (I was offered a lot of international voice minutes but much lower data roaming — a laughable 5Gb instead of the advertised ~7Gb at the 14 EUR mark and significantly lower national data, roughly 60Gb which would have me worry should I need to use it for work)

score: 4

Telekom: all data is unlimited on their 4G network, starting down at the paltry 5 EUR mark (which also comes without contract! nice (but without roaming)!). Unfortunately on the same 14 EUR mark, they only offer 3 (!!!) Gb roaming traffic.

score: 2

Customer Service

Vodafone: all interactions with their customer service were quite great in that they would always provide an answer, whether on the spot or later. Sometimes though it did take insisting to register a complaint or request, even though all their documents mention this is something they need to do. Discussing renegotiating a contract or simply giving up their service is simple and surprisingly straightforward.

score: 4

Orange: talking to customer support is generally ok, unless you want to talk about giving up on their service. Then nobody knows anything and their documentation is equally not helpful.

score: 3

Telekom: atrocious support. Although requesting basic info is simple enough, should you ask about forms to withdraw from contract none of the operators I chatted with had any idea there’s a very simple online form (not printable PDF or anything like that) or where documents are located on their own website (good luck finding anything via search). At one time I ended up screaming at them as they weren’t able to comprehend that I was using a SIM card in a mobile access point rather than a phone and couldn’t confirm receiving an SMS.

score: 2

Mobile web/app

Vodafone: their mobile app seems to a be sort of hybrid app that constantly fails to complete operations. Logging in is absurd, in that user/password login constantly fails. If you’re on mobile data, it should log you in automatically … if you manually navigate away from the login form, something that I discovered by trial an error. Once in the application, viewing account data and metrics is pleasant and easy, doing anything else can result in deep frustration. Moreover, their iOS app is only available for Romanian Apple accounts in a time when many people already have accounts in other countries (presumably with purchased content).

score: 2

Orange: at a glance, it’s much more stable than Vodafone’s. As a plus, the Orange Romania iOS app is available for Apple accounts in any European country. Logging in is intuitive (unlike Vodafone’s) and more importantly it always works. Going about your account though is very much a challenge even for a Zen master with the amount of retries that are necessary.

score: 3

Telekom: much like Orange, it’s available regardless of country. For some reason though, you need to create an account separately from your subscription whether you already have an account or not. Only then you get to add your phone numbers to manage (whereas Orange and Vodafone recognise your subscriptions based on the name/national ID/email). The mobile app is much more stable and usable for basic operations than the web interface.

score: 3

Data speeds

Vodafone: Vodafone is the kind of speed in Romania. They have the best infrastructure and regularly rent it out to other operations (RDS, even Orange). They were the first with 4G and later with 5G in Romania and have consistent high score in P3 communications standard tests.

score: 5

Orange: works. That’s the best that can be said about it. It doesn’t excel at data, which is probably why they still cap the data.

score: 4

Telekom: my experience with their cheapest subscription has been a good one. Though the speeds weren’t the best, it was very stable and with perfect signal inside the city.

score: 4

Voice quality

Vodafone: while quality has been great, the stability of the voice service hasn’t been on par. Throughout the previous year, Vodafone’s voice service went down several times even when other providers were still up.

score: 3

Orange: voice-wise, I would call it the best, but only in so far as I haven’t heard complaints (and virtually everyone in my family uses it constantly).

score: 5

Telekom: no opinion here as I haven’t had to use their mobile voice service and don’t know anyone who does.

score: ?