T-Mobile wants to take over world, or at least make it cheaper to talk to


SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21: Customers wait in line to purchase the new T-Mobile G1 phone before the start of a launch party at a T-Mobile store October 21, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)
October 10, 2013

T-Mobile has made waves with a new plan that eliminates extra international fees for data and text messaging — a move that should boost its appeal with world travelers, particularly in the business world.

The carrier announced the change Wednesday, and said that the new plan covers about “99 percent” of where T-Mobile customers travel the most. T-Mobile managed to work out the deal through new and existing roaming partnerships with carriers around the globe, said Jason Young, the company’s vice president of marketing.

The plan works like this: Beginning Oct. 31, T-Mobile customers who have one of the company’s “Simple Choice” plans will be able surf and text in any of the 115 countries included in T-Mobile’s global plan. Calls will have a global flat rate of 20 cents per minute. Countries in the plan include: Mexico, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, India, Japan, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. This capability will be turned on automatically and carries no extra fee.

The new plan is aimed not at only on the needs of international travelers but also at those of the more lucrative business market. Young said that more than 300 of T-Mobile’s business customers attended its event announcing the plan.

“This is a great plan for businesses, from a number of standpoints” he said, adding that T-Mobile has heard from firms that say they spend thousands of dollars — sometimes thousands per day — on roaming costs so that employees can use data overseas.

At the same time, the carrier is also discounting calls and texts from the United States to all of its “Simple Global” countries for a $10 monthly fee on top of their existing plans. International mobile calls will cost 20 cents per minute, but users get unlimited international texting. Customers will also get unlimited calls to landlines in a subset of about 70 of the Simple Global countries.

Young said the stateside plan is well-suited to T-Mobile’s customer base, which tends to be more culturally diverse.

“We’ve had a more multicultural base than some of our competitors, and I think this plan not just acknowledges that, but celebrates that,” Young said. “We looked at our customer base; we talk to them constantly. And the desire to offer this plan was born out of that.”

Instead of having to worry about dialing 1-800 numbers or using a special code, he said, customers can just use their primary mobile device to call.

Young also said that T-Mobile is aggressively building out its 4G LTE network and now has 4G coverage in areas across the country. He said the firm will be adding new markets and building out its U.S. 4G coverage over the next several months.

Follow The Post’s new tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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