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T-Mobile's Free Roaming Plan: The Fine Print
11
OCT
2013

The Fine Print on T-Mobile’s Free International Roaming Plan

T-Mobile is being touted as “The Best Carrier for Those Who Travel Abroad” (ABC News) due to their recent announcement that there will be no more overseas data fees starting in late October.  However, it may not be the best solution for those who travel abroad – especially if they are used to high-speed connections or want to access the Internet with something other than their phone. Here’s the fine print:

  • The T-Mobile service will only offer data at up to 2G speeds. When’s the last time you connected at 2G? Expect a 30-minute wait to upload a web page. Having fun yet?
  • They will sell you the ability to boost your speed (and believe me you will want to) with high-speed data passes starting at $15 for 100MB for one day.
  • This plan does not allow for tethering. In other words, you can only access the Internet via your phone. If you are used to connecting your reader, laptop, tablet, etc. while on the road, you’ll still need to purchase Wi-Fi for those devices.
  • T-Mobile only covers 100 countries. Yes, many of the major countries are there, but you may want to check the list. Also note that they do not guarantee coverage.
  • You will be required to sign up for a contract for at least one year in order to take advantage of this feature.
  • This plan was not designed to meet the needs of someone who frequently travels abroad. At least half of your data usage in any three-month period must be in the United States.
  • Taxes are additional. Some countries tax Internet usage and those charges will be added to your bill.
  • All access is actually not free – calls over Wi-Fi will be charged at $.20/minute and texts over Wi-Fi will cost $.20 each.

This may be a good option for someone who travels occasionally for pleasure and has limited data needs. If you are a heavy data user, if you travel often, if you do not have the time or patience to wait for web pages to load, if you need to access Wi-Fi with multiple devices, if you are traveling to one of the countries they do not cover, if you do not want to have to sign a one-year contract, or if you want to know exactly what your access will cost – then XCom Global’s flat-fee, high-speed wireless Internet access rental service remains the best solution for your international travel needs.

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