Sprint customers now have access to 4G networks when travelling in Taiwan and Jamaica, the carrier announced Jan. 31. Through new partnerships with Digicel in Jamaica and Global Mobile in Taiwan, Sprint customers with Sprint 4G devices that feature the Sprint SmartView Connection Manager will be able to detect these new 4G options automatically where they're available.
The roaming option will be offered as an unlimited 24-hour "day pass" for $14.99, not including taxes and surcharges. The announcement was the first of several worldwide roaming agreements that are in the works.
"Digicel is proud to have the first and only 4G network in Jamaica," Mark Linehan, CEO of Digicel Jamaica, said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming Sprint customers and are positive that they will delight in roaming with Jamaica's fastest wireless broadband."
Sprint customers will also be able to roam on these additional networks using Sprint's 3G/4G U600 USB modem.
"Over the years, we've built a robust ecosystem of partners that dwarves any other 4G ecosystem available today, and as the first U.S. wireless carrier to launch international 4G roaming, we've clearly demonstrated our leadership," Todd Rowley, vice president of Sprint 4G, said in a statement.
Sprint's 4G network is now available in 71 U.S. markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. While the carrier was the first to offer 4G speeds to U.S. customers, it's no longer alone. In December, Verizon Wireless launched its 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, kicking off in 38 markets and 60 commercial airports, which the company said is just the beginning of its efforts to cover over its 3G footprint.
In early November, T-Mobile did the same, offering a 4G network based on HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) technology in 75 metropolitan areas, with plans of covering 200 million people by year's end. In a Nov. 2 press statement, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said that the footprint of the carrier's 4G network "is not something that competitors are going to match anytime soon."
Finally, AT&T-whose wireless customer base inched ahead of Verizon Wireless' during the fourth quarter of 2010-will also join the 4G race in mid 2011, following the completion of its roll-out of HSPA+ technology across its 3G footprint.
Sprint customers can expect to hear of more 4G roaming announcements for more locations later this year.
"We are definitely working hard to complete some agreements and get them out there," Sprint spokesperson John Votava told eWEEK. "It's definitely in our plans."