T-Mobile Offering Free Text, Data Roaming Service in 100 Countries
T-Mobile's latest un-carrier move is a doozie: Starting Oct. 31, Simple Choice customers can enjoy unlimited global data use and texting in more than 100 countries for no extra charge and pay a global flat rate of 20 cents a minute for calls when roaming in these same countries.
Calls to landlines in these countries will be free. It will also offer stateside international talk and texting for $10 a month.
T-Mobile also announced a multi-year partnership with the Grammy Award-winning artist Shakira.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, speaking at an Oct. 9 press event overlooking a Shakira-ready stage set up in New York City's Bryant Park, said that wireless carriers have for too long gotten away with the scam of charging tremendous amounts for international roaming service.
"How have we allowed them to do this for so long?" said Legere. "They're making margins between 90 and 100 percent."
If Americans were to use their phones abroad the way they do at home, their costs could total "$1,000 a day or more," T-Mobile said in statement. Consequently, 40 percent of customers turn off data roaming completely—while "another 20 percent say they would if they knew how."
A side note to the news is that free data is likely to be on 2G and 3G networks. If you'd like faster speeds, T-Mobile will sell you a Speed Pass: A one-day, 100MB pass for $15, a 1-week, 200MB pass for $25, or a 2-week, 500MB pass for $50.
"It's a simple, in-country decision that you can make," said Legere, explaining that there was no more hassle in advance of traveling. You'll land in a country and receive a text message welcoming you and reminding you that data and texting are free. You can also easily and instantly purchase a Speed Pass.
Nationwide LTE Now Available
T-Mobile also announced that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is now launched nationwide, well ahead of schedule, covering more than 202 million people in 233 metropolitan areas. The company promised 200 million by year's end.
"I can say we have the most reliable network. These speeds are smokin' hot," said Legere.
He added that despite the fact that T-Mobile's LTE network still ramping up, he claimed it's "consistently faster" than its larger rivals' networks. "In 10 of the 20 biggest metro areas, we are faster than AT&T."
In March, roughly half a year after Legere joined the company and became its CEO role, T-Mobile made its first of what it’s marketing campaign called “un-carrier’ moves, announcing it was getting rid of two-year contracts—the industry's standard postpaid business model.
It also introduced Simple Choice plans and the ability to pay for a device in interest-free monthly installments, instead of up front.
"These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club," Legere said in a March 26 statement.
Next, in August, it introduced Jump, a $10-per-month offer that buys subscribers the ability to upgrade their devices twice a year (once they've been with the program for six months).
"At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price," Legere said in an Aug. 10 statement. "That's 730 days of waiting ... or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera. We say two years is just too long."
At a New York City press event the same day, he added that T-Mobile was on a mission to "redefine a stupid, broken and arrogant industry."
Wrapping up his big announcement Oct. 9, Legere consoled the assembled press, none of whom, he said, had correctly speculated about what T-Mobile what announce.
"Most of what you speculated, though, we'll do in the next few months," he grinned. "You're only temporarily wrong."