Using your smartphone abroad sucks, or rather, it's just annoying. You wish you had your phone to talk to home, but it's complicated. Maybe you've figured it out so that it doesn't cost you a fortune (lucky you!) but most of us haven't. Beginning October 31st, T-Mobile will be offering free text and data in 100 different countries to customers on its Simple Choice plans.
So if you've got a Simple Choice plan the new international roaming capability will just be enabled on your account when you wake up on November 1st. And if you need to make a call within the countries covered by the new offering, it'll cost you 20 cents per minute. That's not super cheap, but it's reasonable, and at least you won't be surprised.
That's quite an offer but before we get all excited there is some nitty gritty that we just don't know. At an event tonight, T-Mobile executives declined to detail what the data speeds would be in countries across the world. They did say it would be enough for basic web browsing and mapping applications. Watching YouTube videos or downloading big files might be out of the question, though, depending on the region. In fact, it's pretty clear that T-Mo isn't going to be juicing you at the top possible speeds because it's got a plot to sell speed boosts in countries so that you can accelerate your connection to the maximum available in a particular region.. These boost plans are limited by both time and usage:
$15 for 100MB for one day
$25 for 200MB over two weeks
$50 for 500MB over three weeks
And in the event that you were thinking about using this as your international calling plan of choice, T-Mo has some safe guards in place to keep you from abusing the plan. Trips need to be six weeks or less, so you'll need to have activity at least once in that period. Furthermore, over a three month period you'll need to use at least half of your data in the United States.
The new program is that latest in T-Mobile's attempt at reining in new customers by presenting itself as an industry outsider. It follows the company's "no-contract" and frequent upgrade plans. T-Mo wants you to believe that you're getting a raw deal from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. And maybe there's something to that. According to CEO John Legere, the new international features were added without modifying any of T-Mobile's international contracts.
We'll have to reserve judgement on this offering until we start hearing from all over the world about how good this service actually is. But it sounds like a superb value-added feature that might lure new users over. If you're a frequent traveller, this could change everything. At the very least, it sounds like T-Mo is at least trying to live up to that "Un-Carrier" name.