Friday, October 11, 2013

T-Mobile USA to eliminate international roaming fees

T-Mobile continues to make aggressive moves, adding or modifying services in such a way that their offerings are extremely attractive. The latest change the company announced (on Wednesday, via the New York Times) is key for travelers: It is completely eliminating the roaming charges that typically lighten wallets when customers travel to international locations.

The changes take effect on Oct. 31, with T-Mobile customers automatically enrolled in the free-roaming agreement. After that, subscribers to the carrier's Simple Choice plan can take their smartphone to a foreign country and pay 20 cents a minute for voice calls. More importantly, though, in this day of iOS and Android, is the fact that text messages will be unlimited and that there will be no extra charge for data usage.

Compare those figures to the other Big Four carriers. In terms of voice, AT&T charges customers $30 per month on top of a $2.00 per minute charge; Sprint levies a $4.99 per month fee along with a $0.99 – $5.99 per minute charge; Verizon charges $3.99 per month on top of a $0.06 per minute charge. T-Mobile, as we said, charges a flat $0.20 a minute with no monthly fee.

It's a smartphone, so who needs voice anyway? In terms of data, AT&T charges $30 per 120MB or $120 per 800MB; Sprint charges $40 per 40MB or $80 per 85MB; Verizon charges $25 per 100MB. Those numbers are stark compared to the fact that any data usage on a T-Mobile's phone is simply taken out of your normal rate plan, with no extra cost.

Ah, but there is a catch. That data is running only at 2G or EDGE speed. Compare today's LTE or even HSPA+ speed with the speed of the original iPhone and you'll find many people will be jonesing for higher speed data, and that will cost you.

T-Mobile offers Speed Passes that to accelerate customers' data. They run $15 for a daily pass that gives customers up to 100 MB of 4G data, or $25 for a weekly pass that includes up to 200 MB of 4G data. A monthly pass costs $50 and includes up to 500 MB of 4G data.

Notably, those rates are still better than what you would get from AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon.

Earlier this year T-Mobile announced Simple Choice, which eliminated carrier subsidies for devices by having the customer pay a down payment (sometimes $0), with monthly charges for the balance, and lower service plan rates.

It then offered JUMP (Just Upgrade My Phone), which -- for $10 a month -- allows a customer to upgrade their device twice during a calendar year.

This is just the latest salvo in T-Mobile's war against typical carrier behavior.

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