Sprint has expanded its Open World international calling program to now make all mobile calls and texts to and from Canada and Mexico free and included in monthly customer cellular plans, without additional roaming charges.
As part of the expanded service, Sprint customers will also receive up to 1GB of 3G data for free while traveling in Canada and Mexico, according to the company's Aug. 10 announcement. That allotment is in addition to the data in a customer's domestic data plan. Additional data can be purchased at $30 per GB and will only be charged based on actual usage.
The Sprint Open World program already offers roaming in 34 countries around the world and domestic calls to Latin America, the Dominican Republic and more than 180 other countries at five cents per minute when added to a domestic service plan, according to the company. Also included in Sprint Open World is 1GB of free data when customers travel the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay. The countries of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela will be added to the program in the future, according to Sprint.
"We're opening up the world and breaking down borders so more Sprint customers can stay in touch with the people who are important to them," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. "Sprint is making it easier for our customers to connect without roaming charges or excessive fees for calls or texts."
For Sprint customers roaming outside of Mexico, Canada, the Dominican Republic and other select Latin American countries, Open World participants pay 20 cents a minute for voice calls, while texts are free under the program. Use of 3G data outside these countries is billed at $30 per GB, billed per actual use. Included in these nations are Australia, Canary Islands (Spain), Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Palestinian Territories, Russia, San Marino (Italy), Scotland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Vatican City, and Wales.
Sprint isn't the first of the big four mobile carriers to add free Canada and Mexico calling and texting to their mobile plans, however. In July, competitor T-Mobile added free calling, texting and 4G LTE data to and from Canada and Mexico for all customers who have Simple Choice mobile calling plans with the carrier.
The no-extra-charge "Mobile without Borders" services provide incoming and outgoing calls and texts for customers and allowed the carrier to expand its Simple Choice plans to cover all of North America. About 35 percent of all international calls and 55 percent of all international travel from the U.S. involved Mexico and Canada, which led to nearly $10 billion in global roaming charges at over 90 percent margins for mobile carriers last year, according to T-Mobile.
The T-Mobile move came some five months after major competitor AT&T announced in January that it was acquiring the assets of Nextel Mexico for $1.88 billion. The AT&T deal was described by that company as a step in the creation of what it called "the first-ever North American Mobile Service area covering over 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States," according to an earlier eWEEK report.
In June, Sprint added a "Sprint Cuba 20 Plus" calling plan to allow customers to make direct calls to Cuba. The Sprint Cuba 20 Plus plans offer 20 minutes of international calling to Cuba per month for $10 (50 cents per minute), while additional minutes can be purchased for 70 cents per minute.