AT&T introduced new pricing packages for travelers Nov. 16, doing what it can to dissuade subscribers from slipping cheap local SIM cards into phones when abroad—or from being bill-shocked by roaming fees if they don't.
Available as of Nov. 16 are several new Travel Minutes packages. AT&T suggests that, if you know you're planning to travel, you should sign up for an appropriate plan in advance.
Packages for travels in Canada and Mexico—and be careful not to go over the limit, or it'll cost you 50 cents per minute—include:
- 80 minutes of talk time for $30/month (38 cents per minute effective rate);
- 200 minutes of talk time for $60/month (30 cents per minute effective rate); and
- 500 minutes of talk time for $120/month (24 cents per minute effective rate).
In most of Europe—where subscribers will want to be even more careful, as the overage rate is a dollar a minute—Travel Minutes packages, good in more than 40 countries, include:
- 30 minutes of talk time for $30/month ($1 per minute effective rate);
- 80 minutes of talk time for $60/month (75 cents per minute effective rate); and
- 200 minutes of talk time for $120/month (60 cents per minute effective rate).
What AT&T calls Rest of the World Travel Minutes, explaining that the rest of the world is "most of the countries not covered by the other two packages," rates—with overage fees of $2 per minute—are:
- 15 minutes of talk time for $30/month ($2 per minute effective rate);
- 40 minutes of talk time for $60/month ($1.50 per minute effective rate); and
- 100 minutes of talk time for $120/month ($1.20 per minute effective rate).
If you're more of a message person than a caller, AT&T is now offering Global Messaging packages that apply to messages whether they're straight-up texts or include pictures or video and are sent from any of 140 countries. A Global Messaging 600 package offers that many messages for $60 a month. For $30 a month there's a 200-message package, and for $10 one can send 50 messages.
Also as of Nov. 16, AT&T customers who subscribe to its 300MB or 800MB Data Global Add-On packages—which AT&T introduced back in June—will be able to use an AT&T WiFi International app to access up to 1GB of data over WiFi for free, at select AT&T WiFi hotspots.
The AT&T Website lists these WiFi locations as entire cities—Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bogota, Colombia—which it seems will either simplify the offer for folks or make it moot.
Staying put for the holidays? AT&T has good news on that front as well. It finished its planned 2012 Long Term Evolution (LTE) build-out ahead of schedule and now covers more than 150 million people. Forging ahead, it plans to cover a few more markets by the year's end, bringing its total to 103.
And finally, in the last of its holiday-timed news—at least as far as this week goes—AT&T announced that for a limited time it's offering $100 off any tablet purchased at an AT&T store, in person or online, when purchased with a two-year data plan agreement. That includes the newly released iPad Mini and the fourth-generation Apple iPad.