Free International Roaming With A Premium Upsell

I just landed in Berlin after an overnight flight from the US.

In the past, turning on your phone after landing overseas could be an expensive experience as the phone downloads all the email you received since taking off at international mobile data rates.

I’ve used a host of techniques over the years to avoid the experience of landing, turning on my phone, and immediately getting a text message that I’ve blown past my international data roaming cap.

I’ve turned off mobile data and waited until I got to hotel WiFi to download my email but that meant no mobile data for directions to the hotel. I’ve bought SIM cards in airports. And more recently I’ve rented a pocket WiFi before traveling overseas.

But last year the Gotham Gal and I switched back to T-Mobile after they introduced free low bandwidth international data roaming for all customers in the US.

Here is the experience when I land. I turn on the phone, it finds the local mobile network, connects, and my phone lights up with notifications and emails start coming in.

In addition I get a text message from T-Mobile offering to upgrade me to an international data pass that offers 4G in 100MB buckets at roughly $10/100MB.

I buy the upgrade every time and am happy to pay for the higher speeds.

But the important thing here is the customer experience. No longer do customers have to fear turning on their phone. No longer do customers have to jump through hoops to procure an affordable mobile data plan. If you want faster speeds, T-Mobile makes it drop dead simple to upgrade right on your phone.

This approach to international mobile data should be adopted by all the mobile carriers. It’s a great experience.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Sheamus

    Perhaps somebody who knows more about this can explain it better to me, but aren’t international roaming charges all a big scam? Surely it should be so simple for your mobile network to just hook you up with the nearest, best local network in that country and charge a local rate. I can only think of two reasons why this doesn’t happen – either the phone networks don’t play nice with each other or collectively they won’t play nice with us. My gut feeling tells me it’s probably the latter. Guess we need somebody bold to come along and say that international roaming on their network is a thing of the past and set a precedent – wonder if it might be Apple (or Google, if they ever move directly into that space).

    1. Peter Cain

      Correct on it being mostly the latter, one of the tricks they do use is to charge each other high roaming rates on paper (ie ATT charges Telstra in Australia a high rate, and vice versa), and rate/pricing regulation from overseas companies falls outside the jurisdiction of most consumer protection bodies. Obviously EU is a great example of cross border govt cooperation which is working toward elimination of the great roaming rip-off.In doing a good job of ripping us all off they have made most people super wary. And like most scams or monopolies, they aren’t that sustainable in the long-term as people catch on and find alternatives…You don’t necessarily need to wait for Apple/Google, T-Mobile is a good example of a company tackling it head-on and using it to its marketing advantage. Smart. And of course there is a reason for the $6.5B pa spent on local prepaid SIMs used in swapping out and going local instead of roaming.

      1. JimHirshfield

        So, as someone with skin in the game, do you feel like T-Mobile’s program is a threat to the whole SIM swap market?

        1. Peter Cain

          Hey Jim! In its current state probably no for two reasons – restricted to US citizens and still costs a bit (ie $60 per month for US component + $0.10/MB for premium data). It’s different levels of convenience and pricing for different people really.I think its a really positive change for the end customer and that is great, period.At the end of the day I only set up my little business to solve my own problem, and have managed to help out thousands of people from around the world while I’m at it…let alone have fun, learn and grow from dabbling in a bit of entrepreneurism.Things will definitely continue to change in the area of roaming as the world becomes a truly global marketplace, and barriers shrink whether it is transferring data/money/product ‘x’ across the border.I think the most astounding example of this is how something like WhatsApps (& co) disrupted and wiped out $100-150b in global SMS revenue with their small team and great product. Their impact isn’t as obvious to the average US citizen, but look at the impact in a country like India. Skype in the same boat. Global telco market definitely ripe for plenty more disruption as $’s and importance of communication so big…even if my part is small, its an exciting place and age of change.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks Peter. Appreciate your feedback.

      2. LE

        In doing a good job of ripping us all offThey don’t rip all of us off. The fact that they “rip off” [1] some people means they can afford to not rip off another group of people.I think we pay < $200 a month for an entire family of usage. I think that’s a bargain for what you get in value actually in today’s dollars.And like most scams or monopolies they aren’t that sustainable in the long-term as people catch on and find alternatives…A scam is a “a dishonest scheme; a fraud.” What about this is either fraud or a dishonest scheme?[1] I don’t even agree at all that the way to characterize this is “rip off” anyway.

        1. Peter Cain

          Hey LE, that is mostly referring to the practice of charging $15/MB (or the like) when using roaming data. This has been the case for most telcos in the past, only now are a few starting to change, which is great.$15/MB Vs it’s original base cost (<$0.02) is a rip-off in most people’s books…and the crux of that comment was more pointing toward the paranoia that sort of practice and pricing creates, even going forward when they do adjust their pricing. The great majority of people are now super wary of roaming. The telcos have burnt a lot of people and ‘scams or monopoly’ being sustainable line ..There is probably a number of parts that play into it. The guy that comes home to a $3,000 bill post holiday (yes, that blissfully ignorant guy who didn’t check the fine print…no shortage of these people btw), who used 200MB @ $15/MB..he generally feels he got ‘scammed’. Most of it is his own fault, but some of it is a function of the telcos (dysfunctional) system, that is well within their control…ie no warnings of $x used, no capping/stopping usage, poor upfront transparency (ie lots of carriers today still price roaming data in kb to make it ‘look’ cheaper!). Personally I think there is a good element of ‘dishonesty’ amongst how some telcos communicate and treat their customers, particularly when it comes to roaming, albeit it now we starting to see more positive change.On the monopoly front. Most monopolies aren’t sustainable. People find alternatives, they figure out how to unlock their phones, rent mifi devices like Fred, they switch to providers giving them a better deal, or they buy a local SIM for Japan/NZ/EU/US online (sent from Australia, sent to anyone in one of the 57 countries I’ve shipped to this year).. thank god for the internet and free markets ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Donna Brewington White

    “Customer experience” is the operative phrase. “Drop-dead simple” is close behind it.And whenever you post at a reasonable hour (to my tastes) I know you are either on the West Coast, in Utah, or in Europe.Have a great trip!

    1. JimHirshfield

      Utah….ha! You’re funny Donna.

  3. Liban Mahamed

    Yes, indeed you are on the mark here. T mobile does wonders with the international free data roaming. I am surprised they did not market it more aggressively. This is very convenient when you are visiting a new city and the GPS could help. T mobile is cheaper than both ATT and Verizon I wonder why people still choose them. In Seattle, T mobile deployed LTE network two years ago still ATT and Verizon have bigger market share despite having older slower network. It is strange to me but people still prefer Verizon and ATT.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Lock in.Inertia.And the other guys do a better job marketing the fact that they cover more of the country.

      1. LE

        Also size of market and marketing dollars allocation. Amount of people that this issue matters to is not big relative to others things that a majority of people care about. Would be people who travel internationally, frequently, that have been burned already because they get wads of email.

        1. JimHirshfield


    2. Nathan Lustig

      If you’re in a big city, Tmobile is great, but if you go outside of major cities, you lose data and even voice fairly quickly. Tmobile works perfectly in Chicago, NYC, SF ect, but still doesn’t have LTE in Milwaukee or even 3g in Madison and has no converge in between, whereas att and verizon both work perfectly. So Tmobile is really only a solution for people in big cities who don’t travel much to smaller places.

  4. RichardF

    I’m on Three here in the UK and now get free roaming (ie use my data and call package as I would in the UK) in 16 countries including the US. That’s the way it should be!

    1. Peter Cain

      Correct Richard – Three UK is one of the best prepaid options out there. Free roaming, including data at normal speeds, in their partner countries (only those countries though). It is one of my most popular options for travellers from anywhere buying prepaid local SIMs before they travel.Unfortunately T-Mobile doesn’t extend their international roaming deal to anyone living outside the US (requires SSN/credit check) as it isn’t prepaid. The other real big winner for roaming ‘data only’ is using a Globalgig SIM in EU (also works great in unlocked hotspot) – really all the carriers are moving their pricing to be based off data consumption, as this is where consumer needs have shifted to. Most times you are going to end up streets ahead with a local SIM (price/speed/coverage etc), but like Fred said, can be a maze to navigate on arrival – hence why it is a good idea to buy a SIM before you fly!

      1. RichardF

        I think they will get the typical holiday destinations on board, after this summer ๐Ÿ˜‰ Make hay whilst the sun shines! and the rest of the main European countries will follow to.

  5. Ian Smith

    Sounds like the US mobile operators are catching up with Europe. It really does make life easier for the international traveller.

  6. Eric G

    Now if only there was a T-Mobile-like service option while traveling internationally aboard passenger cruise ships. One of the last great frontiers of costly (and limited) mobile roaming.

    1. JimHirshfield

      hahaha….cell towers are few and far between. Satellite phones are expensive!

  7. LIAD

    operators definitely becoming less shitty.i have an unlimited call plan which allows me when abroad to call free (unlimited):1. any number back in the UK2. any number in the country I’m in3. any number in any of the other eligible countries (most the world) – just a shame, I don’t have more people to call.”Hi, great aunt Sally? This is your long lost nephew, I’m just in NY right now, thought I’d call you for a long catch-up”

  8. cfrerebeau

    With EE (UK provider) when I travel abroad they offer free data to get to their website to buy an add-on or to purchase it through SMS. They will not charge me for any data outside the data add-on I purchased. They ask local provider to turn off data as soon as the add-on expired. So I guess they take the it if more data are used because the local provider usage monitoring is not perfectly synchronized. From an end-user experience it’s perfect and much better than when I used AT&T in the states. Most add-on in Europe are ยฃ1 / 20 MB or ยฃ3 / 100MB – unfortunately it’s still ยฃ40 / 50 mb in South Africa)

  9. djbuys

    I just came back from a 11 day trip to 6 of the Balkan countries. Used the new sim sticker from KnowRoaming, a Canadian startup. It worked really well. Seamless use, great feedback re use & costs. I saved at least 97.5% over what I would have paid with Vodacom.Hard to understand why the mobile companies have always done their best to screw their top customers – those most likely to roam internationally.

    1. Peter Cain

      I’d be interested to know how this performed on the data side of things Hawk? I got one also (haven’t tested yet), but I believe there was a number of problems with the data working? The % savings are good start, but the $/MB is what really counts at the end of the day, so looks like they still have a bit to go even on pricing.

      1. djbuys

        The data side worked fine. You are of course limited to the roaming networks and coverage. It cost about $0.15/Mb. Voice costs varied more per country. Their SIM application worked well – detected change in countries, changed the APNs automatically etc. They send you an SMS with the applicable rates. Calls to my home # were forwarded seamlessly and outbound calls showed my home number. Only small issue was that inbound SMSs to my home number did not forward. WhatsApp worked no problem though. I raised the SMS issue and they said they are working on it.It is a pleasure to just deal with my own phone, no swapping of SIMs, trying to use 2 phones etc.Costs /mb are probably a function of the pricing power of the networks they have to partner with… they are a greedy bunch!

    2. JimHirshfield

      “sticker” – wut? please explain.

      1. djbuys

        Jim, they have a very clever thin ‘sticker’ circuit you stick onto your existing sim. Its thin enough to fit into sim slot and the applicator is good. They then has a ‘SIM Application’ that runs on top of your SIM and deals with the roaming problems.

        1. JimHirshfield

          So the sticker has some electromagnetic coil in it or NFC kinda thing?

          1. JimHirshfield


  10. William Mougayar

    Funny I was used to that same arrival experience back in 2006 when landing in London or India with a T-Mobile Blackberry, with very reasonable rates, especially that Blackberries then didn’t consume much bandwidth then. It worked and switched instantly to the local carriers.But at $10/100MB, that’s still expensive, no? What will be your daily run rate? Today’s smartphones are data guzzlers.Inserting a local SIM card is still more economical, but the only inconvenience is that you need to buy it once there. But you do that once and you can replenish them or you could buy an extra one before you leave, for your next trip. I currently have a pay-as-you-go T-Mobile for the US that’s $3/day unlimited data & it gets activated only when I’m there. And I still have valid local SIMs from previous trips to the UK, France and Lebanon I can pop in the Android the minute I land. And some new phones have dual SIM card slots for road warriors. But it took me a while to figure all that out. It’s like the telecom companies never want you to figure it out.

    1. jason wright

      ideally one would have a dual sim or tri sim handset for this multi sim lifestyle, and yet in the UK buying a handset that takes more than one sim is very difficult to do . None of the UK networks typically sell such handsets.

      1. LaMarEstaba

        It is extraordinarily common for Asian cell phones to have multiple SIM slots. I think you could probably find one online.

        1. jason wright

          that’s why it’s clearly a conspiracy to not sell them in the UK.the only one i’ve seen being sold through an official channel is this one;…+GBP 500 for the older model, and not an LTE handset!

      2. William Mougayar

        Multi-sim phones are more common in some parts of the world. Good for bragging rights ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Peter Cain

      Correct for the most part William, T-Mobiles $10/100MB ($0.10 per MB) Vs ATT $120/800MB ($0.15/MB) isn’t exactly cheap, but depends how long you are there. On a local SIM you should be able to get it below $0.02/MB without trying too hard, and of course there is the more convenient option for the prepared traveller to buy a local SIM online and having it all sorted before getting there. As always horses for courses, and you will always be paying some sort of premium for roaming convenience ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. Brandon G. Donnelly

      I would have thought you’d at least get 1 GB for that ๐Ÿ™‚

    4. awaldstein

      Buying then saving sim cards for my next trip…Feels like Fred Flintstone solution to me. Both too complex and too primitive.

      1. William Mougayar

        The best ones can only be bought locally. It’s a bit like most artisanal wines (to some extent).

        1. awaldstein

          Artisanal wines are scarce and local by nature.Data access is just data wrapped in regulations.One is unique and at times delicious, the other, just innately silly if not stupid to me.

        2. ErikSchwartz

          Most airports have SIM kiosks. The tiny ones (micro? nano?) you sometimes actually have to go to a phone store.

          1. William Mougayar

            true…if you pick the right one ๐Ÿ™‚ I once got tripped at Heathrow, and bought the wrong one (so many variations), and only realized it once in the car into the city. I thought I was happy I could make that first call, and then…not.

          2. ErikSchwartz

            And then there’s the whole frequency issue too.I know that the NA Nexus 5 and the EMEA Nexus 5 have different SKUs and you can’t get the EMEA from the North American Play store.

    5. JimHirshfield

      I’ve been on T-Mobile for a long time. Anywho…the point Fred is making is that unlimited text and data is free (well, free, like included in your family plan). The $10 fee he’s talking about is for the upgrade. I didn’t need the upgrade last summer when I was in Montreal, daughter didn’t need it in Costa Rica, and I don’t plan on buying the upgrade for my visit to Stockholm in a few weeks.So, it’s hassle-free. Just power-up and go.

      1. awaldstein

        Enjoy Stockholm!

        1. JimHirshfield

          Thank you, my friend. Skol!

          1. awaldstein

            Haven’t been in a bit but some buddies are involved in the food and restaurant and wine biz there.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Your global network ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. awaldstein

            Really strong in Europe in both Wine and a growing # of startups.

          4. JimHirshfield

            I’m curious what the startup scene is like in Stockholm.

          5. awaldstein

            No clients there so can’t help.

          6. ErikSchwartz

            Don’t know about Stockholm. I have a friend who is an investor in a company in Gรถteborg

          7. JimHirshfield

            Interesting. What kind of company?

          8. ErikSchwartz

            I’d characterize it web intelligence via machine learning.

          9. Vasudev Ram

            HN ( sometimes has articles about the startup scene in various cities, including maybe Stockholm. You can try:…Just did, and it shows some articles. Caveat lector (as to the quality of the info vs hype), though.

          10. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. Yeah, HN not so helpful there. Regular Google search better.

          11. LE

            Ever since they changed to Angola the search feature has sucked long time. And who picks a name like Angola, angolia whatever anyway? Sounds like a third world country or banana republic.Oh there you go. A bunch of foreign founders [1] so to them it makes sense and resonates apparently. I think it was Steve Martin who aid “those French have a different world for everything..”[1] You primed me pc wise this am thanks.

        2. ShanaC

          I second this

      2. William Mougayar

        I’m not getting the $10/100MB part then? Doesn’t it mean 10$ more for each 100MB consumed?Back in 2006, smartphones weren’t data guzzlers like they are now. The data plans were very different, and optimized for the Blackberries.

        1. JimHirshfield

          At no extra charge, you get good bandwidth.For the $10, you get the 4G bandwidth <—optional

          1. William Mougayar

            Got it. thanks for clarifying.

          2. William Mougayar

            I hope you’re not charging me for answering these comments. Am I over my limit?

          3. JimHirshfield

            You’re on the unlimited plan.Response times may vary however.

    6. Nathan Lustig

      William, I used a similar strategy with tmobile, plus my sim cards from Chile, Argentina, Peru and Brazil, but what I’ve found is that the numbers expire if you don’t use them for 2-4 months, depending on the country. For example, I’m usually in the US for 1-2 months, then abroad for 3-4, then in the US again and my Tmobile is dead when I get back. I’ve switched to Simple Mobile, as at least they don’t have an activation fee, but even with having a US sim, I have to buy a new one each time. What’s your strategy to get around this? Or is my use case different?

    7. LE

      But at $10/100MB, that’s still expensive, no?For Fred? It’s a cost of doing business. So what if you spend hundreds of dollars for an overseas trip on roaming? Or even a thousand? Who cares? (For Fred not for a student or a retiree obviously.) If you are making money (and the trip is a good trip) does it really matter long term? Guess what it doesn’t. In your brain you just have to allocate it as a cost upfront so it doesn’t aggravate or annoy you when it happens. Same way you know that dinner at a restaurant on a trip is going to be shit expensive. Or a cab ride. Or tipping.By the way this is one of the reasons it’s so much better to sell to businesses than to people. People are great when they are spending someone else’s money. I remember the very short time I worked for a company and had an expense account. Didn’t have to think much about spending money. Parking at Javits $50? Who cares? Was raised in a family where we had to eat breakfast at the local greek diner because the hotel (in NYC, the 70’s) charged $2 for a glass of orange juice (iirc don’t remember the price actually..remember not being able to eat there though).I like when hotels charge for wifi and even for premium wifi. That way I don’t have to compete with a bunch of people sucking down the bandwidth for a free offering.

    8. supine

      Except the $3/day prepaid can’t be topped up with a non-American credit card so you have to find a T-Mobile store in order to add credit. They also try to restrict tethering…

  11. jason wright

    it’s sounds like a “great experience”, but surely it’s only the very minimum experience a ‘customer’ should expect to receive.Welcome to Europe. No fingerprints required.

  12. Brandon G. Donnelly

    Only a matter of time before there’s no such thing as international roaming?

  13. Brian Crain

    In case you’re free tomorrow night, we’re having the opening party of our new Bitcoin-centric co-working space near Checkpoint Charlie:

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks. Not sure I can make it but I really appreciate you letting me know

  14. LaMarEstaba

    Figuring out cell phones when traveling is always a nightmare. I have studied abroad in Spain, France, China, and Ecuador, and the process and providers are different in each- plus a little language barrier. I’m glad that TMobile seems to offer a viable solution. I may need to check it out.

  15. Tom Labus

    It should be done automatically as you travel regardless of carrier. Right now they want you to turn your phone on so you can be whacked.

    1. JimHirshfield

      That’s the quick way to lose customers.

      1. LE

        I’ll never fly this airline again!Friction to change. Consequently not a super big deal. Customer gets pissed short term and then forgets when they cool down and lose the head of steam.

  16. JimHirshfield

    Hush! You’re gonna ruin it for all of us that have enjoyed the great T-Mobile experience for the last decade.#theregoestheneighborhood

    1. LE

      Hey Jim, fyi:http://english.stackexchang…I would caution, however, that it originated as an expression of resignation and disapproval of racial minorities moving into previously all-white neighborhoods. Key drivers of housing integration in the U.S. include Shelley v. Kraemer, a 1948 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial covenants were unconstitutional; the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which banned discrimination in housing; and court-mandated school desegregation busing which began in the 1970s.Have to mention I don’t have an issue that you said this but will point out that others might.#notusuallypcmyselfbtwbutitcaughtmyeye

  17. Nick Grossman

    I know that one of the reasons that we have good call roaming in the US, but bad data roaming, is that call roaming interconnection is legally enforced under Title II of the telecommunications act, but data roaming isn’t. I wonder if there is a similar legal construct in europe that makes this kind of data roaming work well there (or if it really is just a choice that T-mobile is making on their own)

    1. Henry Yates

      Yes – there are European Union roaming regulations…But they apply across EU not between EU and US, so it is probably a business decision

    2. MickSavant

      EU mobile connections are all kinds of backwards relative to the US. Most of Europe doesn’t have anything close to reliable 4G. The issue at hand here has nothing to do with regulations; it has to do with what carriers charge each other for their traffic and the mark up (quite substantial) that operators put in people roaming internationally. Most other providers will follow suit in some fashion (AT&T already is for business customers) but it will take a while. T-Mobile can do this in part because they need to do things like this to win customers. VZN and AT&T are sitting pretty.

      1. Nick Grossman

        got iti was under the impression that it was partially due to telecom regulation here in the US that these type of roaming deals work so well here (with voice — not data) — relating to mandatory interconnection and perhaps price controls (but I’m not sure about that)

    3. ShanaC

      Why isn’t data roaming part of the bill (or better, why don’t we push to add it)

      1. Nick Grossman

        Its actually tied up in the net neutrality debate, in a way. Voice roaming is classified under title II of the telecom act, which enforces interconnection rules. Data roaming uses title I/III which is more permissive. Some advocates say that difference is what has made voice roaming work and data roaming not work; see… [image: Disqus] <http:””/> Settings <http:”” dashboard=”” #notifications=””> <http:”” dashboard=””/>A new comment was posted on A VC: musings of a VC in NYC <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1496702819&amp;;event=email”> —————————— <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1496702819&amp;;event=email”> *ShanaC* <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1496702819&amp;;event=email”> Why isn’t data roaming part of the bill (or better, why don’t we push to add it)6:08 p.m., Monday July 21* Reply to ShanaC * <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1496702819&amp;;event=email”> ShanaCโ€™s comment is in reply to *Nick Grossman* <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1495307430&amp;;event=email”>: <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1495307430&amp;;event=email”> I know that one of the reasons that we have good call roaming in the US, but bad data roaming, is that call roaming interconnection …Read more <http:”” url?impression=”93535284-1123-11e4-924a-003048dfbae6&amp;forum=24&amp;thread=2860364987&amp;;variant=control&amp;experiment=default&amp;behavior=click&amp;post=1496702819&amp;;event=email”> ——————————You’re receiving this message because you’re signed up to receive notifications about replies to nickgrossman.You can unsubscribe <http:”” account=”” #notifications=””> from emails about replies to nickgrossman by replying to this email with “unsubscribe” or reduce the rate with which these emails are sent by adjusting your notificationsettings <http:”” dashboard=”” #notifications=””>.[image: Disqus] <http:”” dashboard=””/>

        1. Vance Decker

          “debate” …lol. why even comment on this absurd and unfortunate direction the cable oligopolies are taking.

      2. Vance Decker

        The “we” is mostly people who can barely point out America on a labeled map, much less understand they are being robbed blind.The market forces appeal to the lowest common denominator, not first adopters.

    4. Vance Decker

      Two Words: TEA PartyThe natural outcome of decades of propaganda by shills like the CATO “institute” telling us about the wonderful benefits of ‘self-regulation’

  18. JimHirshfield

    Relevant:Mobile Carriers Charging Differently, but Still Finding Plenty of Ways to Make Money…

  19. Lee Greenhouse

    It’s hard to say that we like our mobile carrier, but Flora and I have used T Mobile for around two years and it is a great experience. We have been using T Mobile’s international roaming every time we go abroad, which is pretty often since both of our kids live abroad. It’s included in our regular plan so there’s nothing to do except turn on our phones when we land in London or Buenos Aires and the voice and email service just start working.

  20. jay janney

    I went with T-Mobile for my current teaching gig in London and Dublin. It worked like a charm in London, but I’ll be darned if I can find a T-Mobile signal anywhere in Ireland (I visited Rosslare, KilKenney, Limerick, Cashel, and Dublin….No signal.But I have the same problem at home–4g at the office, no signal at home.

    1. Dave

      That is weird, you might want to check your settings or call TMO support (who are actually super helpful). I had no issues with TMO coverage in and around Dublin.

  21. pointsnfigures

    Just make it transparent so you know exactly what you are getting and how much it is. Then assume the customer is smart enough to make a decision. No loopholes, no back doors. Nice.

  22. sgleahy

    Always interesting to see the mad rush to locate the free wifi at the restaurant or bar in many of the places I travel internationally. It is a given if you come from a low bandwidth or high cost country that you walk into an establishment with phone in hand looking for the signal. As an American, it took me a few trips of $800 Verizon bills to learn the axiom, When in Cyprus (or Macau, Santiago, etc), do as the Cypriots (or Macanese, Chilean’s, etc) do.

  23. Alex Wolf

    I joined TMobile for this and other reasons, and I’m happy with their policies and transparency, besides saving money vs ATT. I did love the first time I left the US. So much easier.

  24. kenberger

    …Plus the best feature of all for many people: you can keep using your regular mobile phone number that your contacts list already knows.Not so for me though: this feature is good if I don’t already have a local SIM; it gets me to the airport vending machine or into town to get a sim. Which is still what I’ll do in almost every country these days because of price AND often the quality (Tmo may or may not have a deal w/ the best speed local carrier (in Germany of course they do)). And my main phone num issue is handled by GVoice + my Bria/onsip/Skype dialers (which I use to make all business/family calls).

  25. kenberger

    another fascinating recent outcome is that carriers have succeeded in flipping their biz model from charging for calls + unlimited data, to the other way around. Their biggest fear used to be skype, GVoice etc letting you make free calls. Not so much anymore.

    1. ShanaC

      why do they get that they are pipes while broadband carriers haven’t yet

  26. momoetomo

    $10/100MB is just crazy… But I agree the experience is quite good after the hell we had the last 10 years.

  27. Rob Underwood

    This is good stuff and will make my consider T-Mobile. My wife and I just had a similar experience. A few weeks ago she headed to Japan to see her family. She is a very infrequent user of her mobile phone, both data and voice. I told her to try and use wi-fi as much as possible. But I forgot her Verizon iPhone cell service would work in CDMA Japan, and I had neglected to turn off data roaming. I knew she had landed in Narita because I almost instantly got an alert from Verizon that she had incurred $80 in international roaming just on turning the phone on.

    1. Nathan Lustig

      If you call and claim it was an accident (which it was) you can almost always get some or all of the money back. Worth a try.

      1. Rob Underwood

        Generally I’d rather pay $80 than deal with Verizon support (which is probably by their own design having done enough strategy and process consulting for telecoms to know it is often an explicit strategy to make customer experience sufficiently awful that people just don’t call and pay fees instead; same strategy insurance industry uses to discourage claims), but I was able to sign-up for a pro-rated international roaming plan which knocked off most but not all of the fees. Thanks for the suggestion — definitely a good idea.

  28. Peter Radizeski

    Have you looked at TruPhone?

  29. Jim Miller

    FWIW: I got an iPad Air with T-Mobile service for exactly the reason you describe. When I took it to Japan recently, I turned it on to find no network, no connectivity, no nothing. Checking into this when I got back to the US, the problem turned out to be that my only service package in the US was the free 200 MB/month plan, and that this did not work internationally. If I had a “regular” US service package, it supposedly would have worked. I would have happily responded to a text offering me a service plan, but nothing appeared. Grump, I guess.

  30. LE

    Iโ€™ve turned off mobile data and waited until I got to hotel WiFi to download my email but that meant no mobile data for directions to the hotel.You could also simply change the password in the email account to NULL and then re-enter it when you get to the hotel. If it can’t connect to the server then nothing will be downloaded.(I realize that’s a workaround and not as good as unlimitted data but will offer it as a solution for others..)

  31. jamiew

    This is amazing. AT&T, by contrast, has no free international voice, text, or data at all. I spent about $40 for a minimum of voice and text service in Canada last weekend. It would’ve been another $30 for 120MB of data. I also had to call a customer service rep to set it up. Dinosaurs

  32. Jake Lewis

    I’ve found AFWall+ app for rooted android devices to be very useful for throttling data particularly whilst roaming. It works at the iptables / firewall level (hence the need for root) but has a decent GUI. Each application can be assigned to use data: only on wifi, only on cell data, only roaming data, only VPN, never at all etc. Whitelists and blacklists supported. Different profiles can be programmed – travelling overseas – near the end of the billing month or whatever you want. complete with Tasker integration and open source too.So in Fred’s case overseas, email, maps and maybe browser could be assigned to use any available data, whilst everything else could only use non-roaming data, or even wifi.

  33. chacken

    I think a lot of people here are missing the fact that unlimited international data is included in your plan. What Fred is paying for is 4G speeds, not the 100MB cap.

  34. jonwerbell

    For some corporate customers, AT&T will bundle domestic and international data into one pool. For instance, you get 3GB for any combination of domestic and international data per month. I’ve been pitched this plan but yet to gain access to it and to use it – though I have heard from others who get this hidden plan and seems to work well.

  35. Emily Merkle

    **** to AVC community ***Does a Twitter list of us exist?If not I am building one now.@MerkleMerkleit is called – avcefgplease join. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. ShanaC

      yes, I have an old one that needs updating.

      1. Emily Merkle

        Would you mind either – adding to mine or sharing yours with me? @[email protected]

  36. Kevin Pelgrims

    I know this post is about the roaming, but I wanted to mention that in Android you can disable synching without disabling roaming. It’s in the settings or just on the power control widget. It will stop your Gmail, calendar, etc. from updating automatically, but you can still use the browser, Maps, or update your email manually when you feel like it. So that solves your original problem.Of course, free roaming is better ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Paolo

    I traveled abroad this summer with the family for the 1st time since switching to t-mobile. I have to say – the experience was great. No worries about charges – no keeping track of usage. No forcing the kids not to text. While I didn’t pay for faster speeds – the default “free” speed was just fine.

  38. george

    T-Mobile is paving the way for carrier change; I love their international option, it has saved me heaps of money. I may be in the minority but pick is punk in tech too!

  39. Ric

    Recently adjusted my plan (with Vodafone in Australia) which allows me to use my (domestic) plan data overseas for a $5 charge per 24 hr period I use it (i.e. if I never use it, I don’t get charged; if I start using it at 1pm, I’m charged $5 which lasts until 1pm tomorrow). It also includes my call/text plan quotas as well, and since I have 6.5GB data + $700 calls/texts this was an attractive option, especially when compared to the $1/MB for international data I would have been charged otherwise. So for the 9 days I was in Indonesia and Singapore my maximum extra charge was $45, rather than ~$500 (based on data usage and calls made), without looking for a local SIM or changing my number โ€ฆ was pretty happy with that ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. jonathanc

    I have been a ATT customer for a while, always using the intl data roaming plan when I travel. But the Tmobile intl data offering plus the refund for early termination fees sounds pretty attractive. My concern is that the TMobile basic (family plan) offering gives unlimited 4G data for the first GB (per phone), then slows things down. (I think the same is true when roaming internationally). The ATT family plan allows for 10 GB of data, a cap I usually can get near to but have not gone over.The Tmobile website says 1 GB is good for “Recommended for moderate web browsing, email, and social networking” and does not recommend it for streaming videos (which is where my kids consume most of their data).Did you upgrade your US plan to allow for more than 1GB of 4G data? Have you (or anyone in your family) ever noticed the data speed slowdown?

  41. Tommy Chen

    I’ve used this featured a bunch since switching to T-Mobile 7 months ago. It’s great to be able to have an instant connection when landing in another country and not have to worry about the exorbitant fees that might ensue for regular use. I’ve only upgraded to the optional 4G speeds once and found that the slower seed is not ideal but good enough for texting, emails, and google maps. Buying a local SIM where possible is still the the most affordable option if you plan to use data intensive apps.

  42. Antonio Rocha-Ferreira

    Roaming yes. Even so, I’ve been using this Ringo app, an Indian Startup and they completely bought me. Sometimes I can even call the states at 0.01 a minute. Perfect quality. One call dropped in 15. If this picks up, it kills Skype and others.

  43. someone

    if you mostly want international directions then try a Windows Phone. you can download maps for the countries you are traveling to, and it will do realtime directions with no data connection. I used this in Denmark and England on a recent trip and it was marvelous.

  44. Vance Decker

    Even though Google has long since left the world of ‘do no evil’I cannot wait for them to put all these greedy parasites out of business with some global mesh network and google fiber.