T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) said its new "Simple Global" international plans have allowed customers to use their phones more while abroad, and offered some metrics around that international usage. The plans, which the carrier introduced at the end of October 2013, cut out international data roaming fees, though customers surf the web at slower speeds.
T-Mobile said that when traveling internationally, its customers have been calling three times more often, texting seven times more often and using 28 times more data than before. The company also said more than 2 million people have roamed, texted or called in a Simple Global country. Further, T-Mobile said that since the launch of Simple Global, 53 percent more of T-Mobile customers roam internationally than before in Simple Global countries.
T-Mobile said the most popular countries for roaming under the Simple Global plans include Mexico, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The plans cover 122 countries in the world.
However, T-Mobile was not immediately able to clarify its figures, and provide comparison numbers, in response to questions from FierceWireless.
Under the plans, T-Mobile's no-contract "Simple Choice" individual and business customers get unlimited data and texting in more 120 countries worldwide, and only pay 20 cents per minute for voice calls when roaming in the same countries. However, the data rates are capped at EDGE speeds of around 128 Kbps, though the company will offer various levels of speed boosts to customers who want faster speeds. The company prices those speed bumps at $15 for 100 MB per day; $25 for 200 MB per week or $50 for 500 MB for two weeks.
T-Mobile, which has historically lagged its larger Tier 1 competitors among business users, is hoping its international plans tap into frustrations subscribers have about using their phones internationally.
Last fall T-Mobile rolled out massive advertisements for the campaign in several major U.S. airports, including in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles. The carrier also focused heavily on business travelers at JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City.
According to a survey conducted by strategic consultancy Kelton Research, 88 percent of respondents reported being frustrated by the expenses and challenges of staying connected while abroad, T-Mobile said. Among customers of Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and Sprint (NYSE: S), nearly 20 percent leave their devices at home or never turn them on while travelling outside the U.S., the survey found. Another 40 percent turn off data roaming to avoid high costs, and another 20 percent say they would turn off data roaming if they knew how.
This survey was conducted by Kelton between April 25 and April 29, among 1,044 Americans ages 18 and over who have smartphones and have traveled internationally, using an email invitation and an online survey, and the survey had a margin of +/- 3 percentage points.
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