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Bills Don't Lie: T-Mobile Drops International Roaming Charges

NEW YORK -- T-Mobile is dropping international data charges and moving to flat rates for calling across most of its global roaming network for many of its customers.

The carrier unveiled its latest transformation at its glitzy "Uncarrier 3.0" event in Bryant Park, New York on Wednesday evening. It lit the park magenta and brought in hundreds of customers for a free show featuring Swizz Beatz and Shakira. The Colombian pop star has signed a "multi-year partnership" deal with T-Mobile US Inc. .

Click on the image below for pictures of the event:

Guess Where We Were Last Night?
Bryant Park, NYC, Wednesday night -- what could be happening?
Bryant Park, NYC, Wednesday night -- what could be happening?

The carrier is dropping data roaming charges for US customers traveling overseas, offering unlimited data and text in 115 countries worldwide from October 31 for users that buy a $10 "simple choice" package. Customers already on the Simple Choice plan "won’t have to activate anything or pay an extra monthly fee," the company says.

At present, roaming costs can run into hundreds of dollars for US users that travel overseas even for a few days, leading to many trying to use WiFi connections or switch to a local SIM card in their phone to try and save money.

Under the plan, T-Mobile says it will "never charge more than 20 cents a minute" for calls made from countries in the roaming network. Calls to those countries from the US will also run the user 20 cents a minute.

"We're removing another pain point for our customers," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told Light Reading, talking about the latest plan updates. He said that the operator hopes to further grow its customer base through the latest move.

The other three major wireless operators have reacted to T-Mobile's evolving strategy -- such as the Jump device upgrade plan -- with their own variants on the plans. Ray, however, says he isn't exactly sure how AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless will react this time. Roaming charges are a healthy chunk of change for many operators.

"There's a lot more at stake for them," he notes.

Berge Ayvazian, senior consultant at Heavy Reading tends to agree.

"Once again T-Mobile USA is disrupting the mobile industry with this third round of Uncarrier initiatives... expanding flat-rate voice calls, unlimited data and texting coverage to 100-plus countries worldwide," he notes. "This will keep AT&T and Verizon Wireless looking over their shoulders as they try to keep pace with innovation."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 10/23/2013 | 9:17:13 PM
Re: Going Live? People with the "Simple Plan" plan for tablets will also get international roaming included as per the latest update, Wednesday Oct. 23rd.
DanJones 10/17/2013 | 2:29:25 PM
Going Live? T-Mobile US has just texted users to say "unlimited data is now global" ahead of originally stated October 31 date.
DanJones 10/15/2013 | 11:22:21 AM
Re: Roaming Uh-huh, they've been reclaiming/re-using the Metro spectrum pretty quickly too.
MordyK 10/15/2013 | 11:02:47 AM
Re: Roaming Speaking about TMo's coverage. In makrets where MetroPCS has networks, the post-merger integration ought to drastically improve the overall network coverage due to the increased density of cells. This was my experience in past mergers such as AT&T+Cingular.
DanJones 10/15/2013 | 10:37:42 AM
Re: Roaming Yep!
MordyK 10/14/2013 | 8:29:24 PM
Re: Roaming If you don't have an issue with their network coverage in the states there's little differentiation in the roaming service, seeing how all carriers pretty much roam on the same networks.
DanJones 10/14/2013 | 2:33:29 PM
Re: Roaming Yeah, from my convo w/ Neville Ray, they expect that adding new customers will offset monies lost on current int. calls through T-Mobile. That is the hope anyway.
MordyK 10/11/2013 | 10:06:36 PM
Re: Roaming With few exceotions $0.20 usually exceeds the wholesale rates carriers pay to connect mobile calls.
MordyK 10/11/2013 | 10:05:01 PM
Re: Roaming True! but remember that for now this is meant to keep you connected but not remove the entire travel roaming issue. customers can get email,SMS and voice with limited basic app usage, while bandwidth heavy services such as video can be delayed and offloaded to a hotel or other form of Wi-Fi.
MordyK 10/11/2013 | 9:59:27 PM
Re: I like this move... They may have to respond if they begin seeing corporate accounts demanding reduced roaming or T-Mobile begins picking off some of these valuable contracts, which will both have a significant effect on subscriber count and profits.
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