A T-Mobile branded Germanwings Airbus A319 at Stuttgart Airport. (CC/Benjamin Nagel)
T-Mobile is eliminating international data and texting fees in more than 100 countries beginning October 31, the company announced Wednesday.
The No. 4 U.S. mobile carrier announced no-contract mobile plans earlier this year, calling itself the "Un-carrier" in a bid to differentiate itself, then in April began carrying Apple's iPhone for the first time to attract new users.
Customers on T-Mobile's Simple Choice plan will no longer get hit with roaming fees if they travel abroad without first signing up for an international plan. Even a simple trip over the border to Canada or Mexico could rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees.
T-Mobile says that although international fees are a large revenue source for the wireless industry in general, their company doesn't have high international usage by business travelers, and so would sacrifice little to entice new subscribers.
The free roaming cap will be high enough to use email, social networking, and browse the Internet, but users who want to stream high-definition video, for instance, can upgrade to a better high speed roaming plan for $15 per day or $25 per week.
The free international data does have limits for frequent travelers, however.
Any trip abroad must be six weeks or less. Customers must spend at least half of any three-month period in the U.S. -- meaning the plan won't work for students spending a semester abroad, for example.
T-Mobile also announced that for an extra $10 per month, U.S. customers can call landlines in more than 70 countries for free. Calls to other countries in the program or to other mobile phones will run 12 to 20 cents per minute.
The 100 countries include major destinations on every continent but Antarctica, especially where Americans travel most, the company says.
To promote their border-busting free data, T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert announced a partnership with pop star Shakira, saying she's a "global entertainer who certainly understands the importance of being connected while she travels the world."