t-mobile-world-data-roamingWe’ve told you that this was coming earlier today, and T-Mobile just confirmed it with an official announcement, saying: “delivering unlimited global data at no extra charge in 100+ countries” (that includes SMS too). Unless something terrible is in the fine prints (like the alleged 2G speeds!), this is rather groundbreaking for any carrier in western countries. As far as I know, only select Japanese carriers did something like this before – but at a small cost ($10 to $20 per month).

With an extended LTE Network, no-contract plans (and phones) and global coverage with “unlimited” data, T-Mobile announces something that is truly game-changing, and anyone who travels a lot will be look at this announcement with stupor and satisfaction. At the very least, this would enable an incredible level of convenience since data become acquired and worry-free. For those to actually data-roam, this could represent savings of hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. In that case, opening a new T-Mobile account while keeping the old one may even make sense.

It’s clear that data-roaming worldwide is ridiculously expensive and that it is a very high margin product for carriers. Since a few carriers in Asia already offered unlimited roaming at a fixed price, we knew that it pas “possible”. With T-Mobile getting into the fray, and with their LTE network improving by the day, this is going to add tremendous pressure on other US carriers to do the same. At the moment, expect a wait-and-see attitude from the competition, but if T-Mobile delivers on this one, this would be huge.

Eligible Rate Plans include:

  • All Simple Choice consumers & business (new and existing OAC) – excluding pay-in-advance and no credit family
  • New Classic consumer plans since March (AKA Simple Choice Classic)
  • Classic for Business plans (formerly known as Simple Choice Classic) plans introduced in August 2013; Legacy Classic (subsidized) plans are not included

Note: don’t forget to check the wireless bands for your next T-Mobile phones. We recommend the penta-bands models to maximize your roaming chances abroad.

Update: the press release didn’t mention it, but the first wave of reaction suggests that we’re talking about unlimited 2G (EDGE) connectivity while abroad. T-Mobile hasn’t responded to that very question we sent in the past couple of hours, but it’s believable, although unfortunate.

The difference between 2G and HSPA+ (3.5G) is something like this: 7.9Mbps vs 0.7Mbps in downloads and 1.8Mbps vs 0.1Mbps in download. In short, it’s great for email, but uploading HD photos and videos are not really an option unless you want to kill your battery. That said, at no extra cost, it’s still beats paying for roaming since you can use Google Maps and Google Translate, two of the most useful apps out there when you travel.

Update 2: it’s been confirmed to Ubergizmo that T-Mobile’s unlimited global data works in 2G. However, T-Mobile mentioned to us that there would be a way to pay extra for 3G and “4G”, but we don’t know yet how much more that would cost.

Update 3: T-Mobile came back to us with additional info, in case you need higher speeds like 3G or HSPA+, it is possible to buy packages, but they will basically cost you what standard roaming is today, so I don’t think that this is particularly worth it. Free 2G for email, twitter and some mild Google Maps (you can pre-load maps on Android) seems to be the best kind of usage. As a (very) frequent traveler, I would be very happy with that.

  • Single day pass: $15 for 100MB*
  • 7 day pass: $25 for 200MB*
  • 14 day pass: $50 for 500MB*

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