AT&T expands LTE roaming to 13 more countries, but Verizon remains silent

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) said it will offer LTE roaming services in 13 additional countries, bringing the total number to 15 and easily outclassing all other U.S. carriers. No other U.S. carrier has yet announced an international LTE roaming agreement.

Last year Rogers Communications and AT&T inked an LTE roaming agreement between the U.S. and Canada, and AT&T also struck an LTE roaming deal with EE in the UK.

Now, AT&T said it is expanding LTE roaming to cover Orange in Spain, Bouygues Telecom in France, NTT DoCoMo in Japan, KT in South Korea, Telstra in Australia, Hong Kong Telecom in Hong Kong, Swisscom in Switzerland, Celcom in Malaysia, Global Telecom in the Philippines, MegaFon in Russia, Mobile One in Singapore, DoCoMo Pacific in Guam and Digicel in Antigua and Barbuda. AT&T did not detail which carriers in those countries in has agreements with, and a spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, AT&T said it currently has agreements to allow for LTE roaming in over 200 countries, though obviously not all of those have been announced.

AT&T also launched a new iOS and Android app called the AT&T International Travel App, which displays information about a customer's international roaming package or packages, tracks their estimated data and messaging usage and sends alerts when they approach their allotment under their plan. The app was developed, in part, at the AT&T Foundry innovation center in Israel.

AT&T made the announcement just ahead of the start of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain. Last year at MWC, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) indicated it was looking for global LTE roaming partners. In an interview with FierceWireless, Verizon Wireless CTO Nicola Palmer said the company would announce at least one international LTE roaming partner in 2013 with more to follow. She has also said Verizon would implement LTE roaming in Canada and other countries. Verizon has 3G roaming relationships with more than 200 carriers worldwide, and Palmer had said the company hoped to extend those relationships to LTE.

However, Verizon did not announce any international LTE roaming partners last year. In March 2013 Verizon noted that it planned "to launch 4G LTE global roaming overseas in 2014 in several countries, including Canada."

Although LTE deployments are less mature in many parts of Europe than they are in the U.S., some European operators are further along in thinking about LTE roaming. In September 2013 Orange launched a new wholesale service to allow operators to provide their customers with LTE services outside their domestic markets. Orange said its "LTE Signaling" service is based on the diameter signaling protocol and enables operators to provide end-users with a roaming service on latest LTE devices. In December Telenor launched an LTE exchange via its subsidiary Telenor Global Services (TGS). TGS is the official LTE Exchange gateway for Telenor and its global operations, and also offers LTE roaming connections to other operators through Telenor Global's IPX network.

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