U.S. carrier T-Mobile today is announcing a new addition to its "UnCarrier" smartphone plans, adding unlimited texting and 2G data roaming in 100 countries, as well as voice calls from those countries at 20 cents per minute, reports AllThingsD.
Data speeds will be slow, but likely adequate for basic email and perhaps even for mapping and navigation apps. Users will be able to purchase increased data speeds, with speeds reverting to the slower, free option once they have run out. Passes are available for one day and 100MB for $15, one week at 200MB for $25, or two weeks and 500MB for $50.
The new program does require customers to return to the U.S. at least once every six weeks, and six weeks out of every three months must be spent stateside. The program rolls out to postpaid customers on October 31st.
The company also introduced a new plan for customers who call internationally, offering $0.20 per minute calls to many countries, including when dialing a mobile phone. Landline calls are free to 70 countries, while free texting to 200 countries is also included, for $10 per month.
The fear of high charges often prompts customers to leave their phones at home, keep them in airplane mode or turn off cellular data when traveling overseas.
“There’s just so many pieces of data that suggest to us this is a huge issue and pain point but also a huge opportunity,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in an interview, noting that Americans take 55 million international trips per year. However, he said 40 percent of customers turn off their phones to avoid high charges, while many others get stuck with high bills when they return.
T-Mobile launched a new phone purchase program earlier this year in an attempt to differentiate itself from other carriers, allowing customers to purchase phones for a moderate down payment and then pay monthly fees until the phone is paid for. After that, the owner's monthly bill drops.
In July, T-Mobile introduced 'Jump', a phone upgrade program that allows customers to upgrade phones as frequently as once every 6 months.