Tuesday , 11 December 2018
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Phone roaming options getting easier, cheaper – SFGate (blog)

Phone roaming options getting easier, cheaper – SFGate (blog)

Will your cell phone work in Cannes? How much will it cost to send a selfie? (Photo: Whitey Bluestein)

“What is the cheapest way to connect overseas?” a friend recently asked. “You’re in luck,” I told her, “International roaming just got much better for US mobile customers who travel.” [FULL STORY]

If you’re one of the 67 million Americans who travel globally, changes in international roaming plans mean you no longer need to “turn off data roaming” outside the U.S. and search for Wi-Fi hotspots. In 2013, T-Mobile disrupted the international roaming market with the launch of “unlimited international data and text services.” Since then, other U.S. mobile operators began offering improved, lower-cost international roaming plans, for the first time allowing full use of your smartphone outside the U.S. Global travelers who rely on mapping, social media, travel, booking, or ride sites don’t have to wait to get to their hotel wi-fi network to check email, upload pictures or plan the next leg of your trip.

This is a guest post by TravelSkills reader and telecom expert Whitey Bluestein

Americans are traveling more than ever. Last year, nearly 67 million traveled to international destinations, an overall increase of 8 percent over the previous year. While more than half traveled to Mexico or Canada, Europe was the most popular destination outside North America, with nearly 12 million Americans traveling “over the Pond.” Europe was followed by the Caribbean (6.6 million) and Asia (4.4 million), according to data from the National Travel and Tourism Office. For mobile operators, these travelers are typically high-value customers whom carriers don’t like to tell “don’t use your phone or a feature” when traveling, and don’t want to receive angry calls over roaming charge “bill shock.”

I put one of the plans to the test just last week, and for the first time ever, I used my smartphone in Europe, including my favorite apps, without fear of roaming charge shock. Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Email, TripAdvisor, Booking, Uber and OpenTable all worked great in Europe, wherever I was. It’s a great time to travel!

How do these international plans stack up? Here’s how each of the mobile operators describe their international roaming plans.

Verizon TravelPass

Verizon’s TravelPass allows use of your domestic talk, text and data allowances while traveling outside the U.S. for a flat daily rate. Instead of paying per minute, per message, or per MB, Verizon customers traveling to any of 100+ countries covered are charged a flat daily rate with TravelPass. For Mexico and Canada, the daily rate is $5/day, unless you have Verizon Plan Unlimited, which includes North America. In all other countries where TravelPass is available, the daily rate is $10. A “day” is 24-hours from when you arrive, turn your phone on, and use your phone; it then renews every 24 hours you use your phone. TravelPass is available on 4G LTE “World Devices” with GSM SIM, including smartphones, tablets, and mobile hotspots, among others. Note that 4G data speeds apply for the first 512 MB/day with reduced speeds thereafter, so make sure you do not have notifications or apps running in the background that consume data. (I exceeded this allowance on several days, and found that “reduced speed” was a crawl at best but more often, the spinning circle of death.)

For more info on roaming options from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile read the full post on TravelSkills.com

You should enable International Services on your account, and there are other rules, so talk to a Verizon representative to make sure you’re on the right plan before you leave.

Chris McGinnis is a travel blogger and editor of TravelSkills.com. You can reach Chris at chris@travelskills.com or on Twitter @cjmcginnis.

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