2022 US Trip – Day 13 (Chicago – O2 Roaming Stops Working – ATT)

This blog isn’t a technical support forum, but I’ll take this opportunity to offer my new found knowledge about problems with O2 roaming in Chicago. As anyone who is wading through this blog and its endless posts will know, I’d already been in the United States for a couple of weeks and I had been merrily using my included roaming data which is 25GB per month. I arrived into Chicago and it stopped working.

I thought it was strange as I sat on the tarmac of O’Hare Airport (on a plane, I didn’t stomp out there in a mood to sit on the floor) and realised I had no phone signal. I didn’t think too much of that, as I’m used to coverage blackspots since I’m from Norfolk and half the county is inaccessible. Once in the airport, I connected to their public wi-fi and didn’t lose connection until I was on the Chicago Subway (more on that in the next post) before realising something was clearly not working. I took a photo of the map in the Subway carriage as I was starting to think that I had better get details of all the public transport links since I was being plunged into data darkness.

To cut a long story short (well, for this post, I’m about to recount the full long story in the next post or two) this proved to be a problem as I needed data coverage for the next part of my trip. I didn’t actually fix the problem for some hours, until I was in the hotel and connected to their wi-fi. O2 customer support were helpful, but couldn’t work out was wrong. Fortunately, I found a tip on-line, which is that there’s something odd about AT&T’s 5G connection, namely it works differently (I’m not a computer engineer, that’s the limit of my explanation of the issue). As my phone was connecting to AT&T, as O2’s partner network in Chicago, it rejected any data link unless 5G was switched off. It’s an odd quirk, but for anyone struggling with roaming, try going into the phone settings and disabling 5G. Immediately on doing this my phone roared back into life and I could check social media every 25 seconds, which is just as I like it.