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.)
Docomo Goes Roaming With China Mobile, KT TI Sparkle Enables Euro/LatAm Roaming Euronews: Orange Bolsters 4G LTE Roaming The Price Isn't Right With EU Roaming Rules — Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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