Policy + charging

Sprint Follows T-Mobile Across the Borders

Sprint is the latest carrier to break down the mobile borders between the US, Mexico and Canada with a new plan that includes a free 1GB of 3G data, calling and texts between the countries.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s offer comes a few weeks after T-Mobile US Inc. announced its Mobile Without Borders plan, which it did to pre-empt AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s own North American service footprint. (See T-Mobile Stomps on AT&T's North American Footprint and AT&T Makes More Moves in Mexico.)

Sprint's Open World is a free add-on for its customers on domestic service plans offering calls and texts to Canada and Mexico at no extra charge, and calls starting at a nickel to more than 180 additional countries. Sprint is also offering 1GB of free 3G data when roaming in Open World countries, including Mexico, Canada and more than a dozen Latin American countries. Additional data can be added for $30 per 1GB, adjusted by actual usage.

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Sprint's new plan is a direct response to T-Mobile's move to make roaming more palatable, but both are arguably a response to AT&T, which is spending big to reach more than 400 million potential customers in Mexico via its acquisitions of Iusacell and Mexico Nextel. (See AT&T Commits $3B More to Mexico.)

It's all good news for those customers who travel between the countries frequently as roaming has long been a source of pain -- and huge bills. The carriers have typically blamed the high cost of roaming agreements with international carriers, but T-Mobile, for its part, said it was able to work out a mutually beneficial deal with operators in Canada and Mexico to make its new plans happen.

With these new plans, AT&T may be in Sprint's periphery vision, but the carrier is really duking it out with T-Mobile. It lost its third-place ranking by subscriber numbers to T-Mobile in the recent quarter, ending it with 57.7 million customers compared to T-Mobile's 58.9 million. Sprint has also again promised improved service in the US with its soon-to-launch, SoftBank Corp. -endorsed Next-Generation Network improvement plan. (See T-Mobile Beats Sprint on Subs, Eyes Verizon on Network and Sprint Promises Better LTE on Lower Capex.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

nasimson 8/15/2015 | 5:23:05 AM
Low margins vs no revenue If service providers don't decrease roaming tariffs, subscribers will increasingly adopt to Viber and whatsapp calling. So lower margins are better than no revenue.
KBode 8/12/2015 | 2:46:24 PM
Re: ready to roam Yeah I'm curious what this agreement looks like on the back end as well.

Though at $30 per gigabyte after the "free" gigabyte (which isn't free if I'm understanding it correctly since it's being pulled from your existing U.S. allotment) there's surely money still being made.
Sarah Thomas 8/11/2015 | 12:54:38 PM
ready to roam I really hope AT&T and Verizon follow suite on roaming agreements like this. It makes a big difference for so many travelers.

I am very curious how much of a haircut Sprint and T-Mobile are doing to offer it though. Did the Canadian and Mexican operators really just agree to better rates? If so, then what took so long?!
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