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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

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?!
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.
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.
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