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images-2Great article from Android Central which compares International Roaming Retail from a US perspective:

Gone are the days of astronomical pay-per-MB rates, limited roaming carrier agreements and poor options from some of the carriers. Two of the big four carriers are now offering some sort of free international roaming, with the other two coming around to friendlier pricing structures and fewer restrictions on how we use our data we bought. Even prepaid carriers are getting in on the action with some international calling plans.

Even with all of these changes, international data still isn’t cheap. Your best bet is to find a local prepaid SIM card when you travel and pop it in your unlocked phone. But that’s not always easy — and there’s really something luxurious about stepping off a plane, firing up your phone … and it just works.

And so we’ve gathered up the international data rates for the four major U.S. carriers — Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — plus added a mention of Google’s Project Fi offering. Each carrier does things slightly different, whether it’s buying data ahead of time, loading up full-speed data passes once you’re already gone or setting up a monthly roaming add-on.

Here’s how each of the carriers handles international roaming.

AT&T

AT&T in October 2014 changed up its international plans a bit, offering the same packages in either a one-time shot, or in recurring monthly instances. Prices remain unchanged, as do the data buckets.

Here’s how it breaks down:

$30 for 120MB of data, 25 cents per MB overages, $1 per minute calls
$60 for 300MB of data, 20 cents per MB overages, 50 cents per minute calls
$120 for 800MB of data, 15 cents per MB overages, 35 cents per minute calls

T-Mobile

T-Mobile now offers free international data roaming on its Simple Choice postpaid plans when traveling in over 140 countries worldwide. But it comes with a caveat — speeds are limited to 2G, or around 128 Kbps, much slower than what you’d be used to back home. But hey, it’s free.

If you need faster speeds (we wouldn’t blame you if you did), you’ll have to pay for a data pass to bump up your speeds — though the actual speeds you’ll get will depend on the country and your phone’s radio bands. The passes:

$15 for 100MB of data to use for one day, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
$25 for 250MB of data to use for seven days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
$50 for 500MB of data to use for 14 days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
The $15 plan can be good to use in a pinch, but the best value is going to come from getting the more expensive plans that let you use the data for a longer period of time. Also remember that once you buy a data pass, it’ll work to give you faster data speeds in any country that T-Mobile offers the service — you don’t need a new pass for a new country.

In mid-2015 T-Mobile also threw another wrinkle into this plan by extending unlimited full-speed data and unlimited talk/text to both Canada and Mexico as part of its Simple Choice plans. No more dealing with high-speed data packages when you hit the countries bordering the U.S.

Sprint

After having some of the most woeful offerings in the business, Sprint refreshed its international data plans in April 2015. Much like T-Mobile, Sprint offers free 2G data roaming in Latin America, Japan and Europe — 60 countries in total, check with Sprint for the full list — with the option to purchase 3G-speed data packs if you need a faster connection:

$15 for 100MB of data to use for one day, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
$25 for 200MB of data to use for seven days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
$50 for 500MB of data to use for 14 days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
There are two downsides to Sprint’s offering, though. The first is the 2G data speed, which is a very slow 64 Kbps (half of what T-Mobile offers). The second is the number of countries — Sprint is still at about half the number of available countries as the other carriers when it comes to roaming.

Verizon

Verizon offers one tier of pricing for travel to Mexico and Canada, with another tier for other countries outside of North America. Data is offered on a monthly basis rather than daily or weekly rates like T-Mobile and Sprint — make sure you don’t accidentally keep that monthly charge on your bill when you plan to stay in the U.S. for more than a month. Verizon offers international roaming in over 140 countries.

Mexico and Canada:

$15 per month for 100MB data, 100 minutes, 100 sent texts (unlim. receive texts) (Overages: $10 per 100MB, 10 cents per minute, 10 cents per sent text)
$25 per month for 1GB data, 500 minutes, 500 sent texts (unlim. receive texts) (Overages: $20 per 1GB, 5 cents per minute, 5 cents per sent text)
Texts sent in Canada are included in your domestic texting plan
Data usage with this add-on is limited to Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Rest of world:

$25 per month for 100MB data, $1.79 per minute voice, 50 cents per text sent, $0.05/text received
$40 per month for 100MB data, 100 minutes, 100 sent texts (unlim. receive texts)
Overages: $25 per 100MB, 25 cents per minute, 25 cents per sent text
It’ll be worth making some calculations as to just how much data, how many minutes and how many texts you’ll need while abroad before choosing plans. Verizon makes its offerings somewhat confusing with multiple tiers, so be sure to get a grasp of what you need before leaving so you can make the right call here.

Google Project Fi

If you’re using Google’s own carrier, Project Fi, things are pretty simple when you take your phone abroad. Much like T-Mobile and Sprint (which makes sense because it uses both networks), Project Fi offers roaming in a robust number of countries at no additional cost. The only difference with Project Fi is that you get 3G-like 256 kbps speeds out of the gate (again depending on device compatibility), and you simply pay the standard $10 per gigabyte rate you’d pay in the U.S.

$10 per gigabyte, no restrictions on usage or speed
Unlimited calling to/from U.S. while on Wifi
Unlimited incoming calls from U.S. while on Wifi
Varying calling rates when calling internationally on Wifi
20 cents per minute when calling internationally on mobile data
Unlimited texting in any supported country

Where things get a bit confusing is on international calling. Because Project Fi allows for calling over Wifi as well as cellular networks, it offers lower rates over Wifi (fewer routing costs) and varying rates depending on where you’re calling. You can always call to/from the U.S. for free over Wifi, but that call may cost you a few cents per minute if you call internationally over Wifi. Calls over mobile data will always cost you a somewhat-steep 20 cents per minute. It’s best to keep an eye on when you’re calling over Wifi versus cellular data to limit your additional costs.

The bottom line

Again, folks, when traveling outside the United States, it’s cheaper to get a local SIM card, if you can. We also recommend staying on Wifi whenever possible — make use of Wifi calling on Sprint, T-Mobile and Project Fi, or try a VoIP solution like Skype or Hangouts.

If you just have to have roaming data, though — and there’s nothing wrong with it so long as you’re willing to pay — it’s important to do the math. The good news is that there are options, and the options have gotten better over the years. Not that you’ll likely have much of a choice when it comes to switching carriers just for overseas use, but comparisons are good.

Source: Android Central

 

By | 2017-08-24T23:43:20+00:00 November 4th, 2015|Categories: RESEARCH NEWS|

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