Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) is wading into the competitive market for international roaming offerings, and said its customers can now use their existing voice, messaging and data plans for $2 per day per line in Canada and Mexico, and $10 per day per line in more than 65 other countries around the world. Verizon also promises users that they won't get bumped down to 2G networks when traveling abroad for data access.
The service is called "TravelPass" and Verizon customers can implement it for free by accessing their account online or on their MyVerizon app on their phones. The countries included in the plan include many in the Caribbean, most of Europe and Australia, Singapore, Taiwan in Asia.
"When you globetrot with TravelPass, you'll have a great network when traveling to the world's most popular international destinations," Verizon said in a statement. "Unlike other providers, Verizon doesn't use gimmicks like 'free data roaming' to lure you in and then put you on a slower network and restrict your data use while outside of the U.S."
Verizon said the daily fee is only charged on the days customers use it in one of the TravelPass countries. TravelPass activates automatically when customers make or receive a call, connect to a data service or send a text message while within one of the countries where TravelPass is available. Another daily session will begin once subscribers make or receive a call, send a text or use data after the 24-hour period expires. Users can keep TravelPass on their account at no charge.
As CNET notes, if customers don't want TravelPass to automatically activate, they can turn off the service through the app or website, or put their smartphone on airplane mode and use Wi-Fi.
For Verizon customers, TravelPass is a big step up and cost savings from their existing options for international service. According to CNET, a typical Verizon plan for Mexico and Canada for 500 minutes, 500 sent text messages and 1 GB of data would cost $25, and plans for other countries are even more expensive and offer less data.
The offering gets Verizon in the game against AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S), which all have some variation on what Verizon is launching, with different options.
T-Mobile's "Simple Global" global roaming program lets T-Mobile "Simple Choice" postpaid customers access unlimited 2G data and calling at 20 cents per minute. Verizon's knock against slower network speeds is likely in reference to the 2G speeds T-Mobile offers, though T-Mobile offers 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.
The Simple Global program now covers a total of 145 countries and destinations worldwide, including all of Europe and South America. The Simple Global program was first launched in the fall of 2013 and had 115 countries at launch. T-Mobile said in September the program now covers more than 90 percent of the trips Americans take abroad each year.
Additionally, in July T-Mobile said that its Simple Choice customers can use their plans in Canada and Mexico just as they do in the United States. T-Mobile's MetroPCS prepaid brand offers that option for Mexico.
Meanwhile, Sprint sought to answer T-Mobile and in August unveiled its new "Open World" international roaming service that makes unlimited calling and texting to Canada, Mexico and other Latin American countries free for its U.S.-based customers. The offering also gives Sprint customers free calls and texts and 1 GB of high-speed data when they are traveling in those countries. Countries included in the offering are Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.
Sprint also said that it will offer free texting, calling for 20 cents per minute and $30 per GB pricing to customers who travel in more than 40 other countries, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Palestinian territories, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Late last month AT&T said its Cricket Wireless prepaid brand started letting customers on its $50 and $60 per month plans use their plans' data buckets in Mexico and Canada free of charge as if they were in the United States. The new offering added data to Cricket's current offer of unlimited calling, texting and messaging in between Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
- see this release
- see this CNET article
- see this Re/code article
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