Photo (cc) by Arne Hulstein
If you haven’t paid attention to T-Mobile this year, you’ve missed some big changes. There’s another one coming that’s worth tuning in for if you ever travel abroad: The company is killing off roaming charges.
In March, the carrier stopped forcing two-year contracts on people. It ended what The New York Times’ David Pogue calls the “Great Cellphone Subsidy Con,” where “you buy a $600 phone (like the iPhone) for $200, with the understanding that you’ll pay the cellphone company the rest over your two-year contract — yet after you’ve repaid it, your monthly bill doesn’t drop!”
T-Mobile lets consumers purchase their phones at full price, or pay for them over time at no interest.
Pogue also notes that T-Mobile’s voicemail prompt stopped explaining to users how voicemail works — a much smaller change, but a welcome one. What a waste of time and money that unnecessary and all-too-common announcement is. “At the tone, please leave your message. Blah, blah, blah.”
These changes seem to have impressed consumers. T-Mobile says it signed up 685,000 customers in the second quarter. As Pogue notes, that’s more than Verizon, AT&T and Sprint combined for the same period. It’ll be interesting to see what T-Mobile’s newest announcement does to those numbers.
Roaming charges come from using your phone when you’re outside the U.S. They can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars without you noticing. Carriers generally charge extra to offer some protection from those crazy fees — but even that doesn’t come cheap. AT&T charges $60 for 300 megabytes of data and $10 for 50 text messages, Pogue says.
Starting next week for new customers and Oct. 31 for existing customers, T-Mobile will automatically offer unlimited data coverage and texting in 115 countries. Calls will be 20 cents a minute.
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