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December 9, 2013
AT&T is staking the claim of the first US operator to offer international 4G LTE roaming through a deal with Rogers Canada.
A partnership between the two will allow AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s LTE customers to roam on to Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI)'s LTE network, which currently covers about 70% of the country. AT&T already has roaming deals in place with other carriers in Canada, but only for its 3G network. This is its first international LTE roaming deal, and a first among US operators.
Roaming will continue to be an expensive proposition on LTE, however. AT&T offers roamers Data Global Add-on plans that give its customers only 120MB of data for $30 per month and up to 800MB of data at $120 per month. It says that 42% of its customer base is currently using an LTE device.
Why this matters
International LTE roaming is becoming an important battleground as the US operators work on completing their local LTE rollouts. It's both a technical challenge -- dealing with disparate spectrum bands across the globe -- and a business one -- working out deals that make it palatable to both operators. Several European 4G operators have struck deals between countries, but AT&T is the first US operator -- beating out US coverage leader Verizon Wireless -- to announce an LTE roaming agreement. (See LTE Inches Closer to Roaming the Globe.)
The deals will become more valuable as LTE becomes the global standard, but data pricing will still hold a lot of customers back from taking advantage of the 4G speeds abroad. It's another fact of wireless life that T-Mobile US Inc. is exploiting, undercutting its rivals on international roaming prices on its 3G HSPA+ network. (See Bills Don't Lie: T-Mobile Drops International Roaming Charges.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Director, Women in Comms
Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.
She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.
As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.
Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.
Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.
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