T-Mobile Making Changes To Off-Network Data Roaming Plans In The Future?

Word coming out of Howard Forums tells us T-Mobile will be making some changes to their data roaming plans when you are wandering off the T-Mobile network. According to the Howard Forums tipster, sometime in early April, T-Mobile will change their domestic roaming policies to 100MB of data on the 5GB plan and 200MB on the 10GB plan. If you exceed the 100 or 200MB limit, the network will cut off any data services until a connection to a T-Mobile tower or Wi-Fi is made. The plan will reset in line with your billing cycle. Accordingly, T-Mobile will start notifying customers of the changes when logging into myT-Mobile and/or via a paper letter received with an upcoming billing statement.

At this point, we’re still chalking this up in the “unconfirmed” category but we have heard rumblings of changes to T-Mobile’s data roaming plans coming in the next few months anyway. For the moment, we’re going to assume the 100MB and 200MB data roaming plans are correct until we can further verify this intel. The real question is, how will this affect you? In my case, I’m hardly ever off network so these plans won’t really affect me, however, can you say the same?

According to the tipster, T-Mobile spent close to 400 million last year in data roaming so this new roaming policy could be construed as a cost-cutting measure. The current estimate is that around 10K customers will be affected by this plan.

Howard Forums

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    isn’t a roaming deal with att coming in the near future

    • Blkbear

      May be coming and might be for voice, rather than data.

    • May be coming and might be for voice, rather than data.

      • But they already have a voice roaming deal. Since AT&T was Cingular. And AT&T’s UTMS only does data.

      • TMO LOYAL

        It is strictly DATA no voice at all. All Voice roaming will still remain on AT&T’s GSM network.

        • Lets get something straight, the roaming deal is for AT&T’s HSPA 3G/4G network. Since voice AND data both run over HSPA networks (and I know this because my T-Mobile phone is set to HSPA+ONLY AWS, and I make calls and data just fine) there is no reason to believe that the AT&T roaming deal is ONLY for data. T-Mobile also states that it will address an increase from 230m pops to 280m pops with this roaming agreement. T-Mobile isnt looking to address 50m potential customers with “only data” roaming. Especially since they are limiting data roaming now. 

        • TMO LOYAL

          You can get as straight as you would like to be, but the fact is the 3G roaming will be data only. All voice will continue to go across 2G while roaming.

    • Anand

      T-Mobile and ATT have always had a roaming agreement.  The new roaming agreement being implemented post-non-buyout is specifically for 3G data roaming.  Previously, T-Mobile subscribers could only roam on 2G on ATT’s network — even if they had a phone capable of attaching to ATT’s 3G frequencies.  Once the new agreement is implemented, T-Mobile users with compatible phones will be able to roam using 3G.

      • T-Mobile and AT&T have not ALWAYS had a roaming agreement. Many of the agreements that T-Mobile had were with companies that were bought out by AT&T and those roaming agreements have been transferred/retained.
        Where AT&T and T-Mobile had agreements, since 2009 T-Mobile has been removing roaming coverage on AT&T.
        Most of the roaming on T-Mobile and AT&T and regional/local GSM carriers has NOT overlapped in areas T-Mobile already provides coverage. Furthermore, T-Mobile and AT&T do not allow roaming agreements within the same market areas if the other offers ANY coverage at all, regardless how small, weak, or degraded the service/signal is, and/or if T-Mobile holds any spectrum license in the area.


    5GB, 10GB…. what of the 2 GB?

  • I only ever see roaming data in EDGE.  It would take forever to use 200mb in EDGE.

  • Vlad Andreyev

    What I want to know is when these idiots will realize how utterly ridiculous the $15/Megabyte international roaming rate is.  Does anyone ever intentionally use data while roaming abroad with a T-Mo SIM?

    • Anonymous

      You should not, I went to canada and had the international roaming plan. When I came back, I was hit with a 500 phone bill. When I call and asked why, I was told that it only work while I’m in the states.

      • Vlad Andreyev

        Data roaming in Canada is a relative bargain at only $10/Megabyte!  How did they even come up with these rates…

        • Anonymous

          Well they told me that they do not have an international roaming plan. that the plan they have is for someone, who want to call to canada or international while they are in the united states. Once I enter Canada my international roaming plan was void. They charge me for international roam for voice and data usage.

        • StrongArm

          Wow you didnt know the difference? You deserve to pay 500. Either you fooled yourself into believeing that was roaming data or your not very bright.

        • Anonymous

          No, I didn’t. the rep told me a liar and said that the plan was for international usage. Once they play the recording back and heard the rep misguiding me, they adjust me bill. 

    • Anonymous

      Best way to go is to buy a prepaid SIM when you go overseas so this does not happen. 

      • Vlad Andreyev

        It certainly looks like that’s what T-Mobile wants me to do, as opposed to paying them a reasonable amount for roaming.

  • Robert Rican

    What? At&t can’t keep up with t-mo’s hungry data consumers???

    • AT&T cant even keep up with their own hungry data consumers… but it seems they are going to be doing a better job of it than T-Mobile is trying to do. T-Mobile is curving things by announcing anti-consumer friendly tactics and policies, and then hiding the fees.

  • Faalkon5

    I think they men’s the USA also. I go off Tmo towers sometimes in Kansas. Haha!!

  • kresk

    I don’t know what to think of this other than that a 100mb of data seems frighteningly low.

    • Anonymous

      How often do you usually roam??

    • Anonymous

      wouldn’t suck as bad if Tmo expanded coverage or if AT&T didn’t charge them an arm and a leg

  • guest

    In the states if not on t-mobile your are roaming, even with the new roaming agreement. Data will be throttled voice you can use.   

    This has nothing to do with international roaming you can still get a huge bill.

    Will the iphone be faster on new atandt towers? if so here you go have fun for 200 megs than thats it.

    No getting out with etf with this change.

    Those new Towers from att only help voice not data, Why!!!!

    And wait there is more…. what happened here?

    • Anonymous

      Are you drunk? I am having a hard time deciphering your comment. New towers?

      • towers usage

        I am confused  when talking to customer service reps about text they will  recieve when data roaming in us, most reps will they say “oh you were on a atandt tower” Didn’t we gain any roaming agreements (tower usage) with failed merger. Is that correct or not?

        • Anonymous

          roaming is not free, with the agreement it’s usable up to a certain point – $1b for in costs for 7 years, then AT&T starts to charge Tmobile for using their resources

        • Anonymous

          I really don’t know but I was under the impression that the roaming agreement we have with AT&T is supposed to be a mutual non charge type agreement that allows customers from both companies to roam with no charge. Now I am wondering if I am wrong. I don’t know if this policy will impact that agreement or not.


      Dude what are you smoking? T-Mobile did not get any new towers from AT&T.
      You may want to research a little more before making post in the future.

  • Anonymous

    In other news… T-Mobile UK is offering TRULY unlimited web with free tethering, unlimited text, unlimited mobile-to-mobile and 2,000 minutes for $54. Why in the hell can’t T-Mobile US get their plans together like that?

    • Kirk

      Do you even know what Truly unlimited WEB means? It isn’t the same as unlimited data. You are restricted to static sites. Streaming music, streaming videos, YouTube, Apps that use streaming data and other such online activites are SEVERELY LIMITED ON T-MOBILE UK. 


      DO me another favor, go look up how much T-Mobile UK allows a customer to stream data. Then come back and post a comment after you see how much data streaming is allowed.
      I won’t even tell you, go look it up.

      • Anonymous

        Okay Captain Kirk, perhaps I used the word web in place of data… Big deal. Now do me a favor and fly away!

      • “Web” means “World Wide Web” which can mean anything on  website can be used. However, terminology between UK and US are different, and “web” there means “data” and “data here” means anything that uses the “internet”. 

        Also look at the actual plan – if it was “web” then why would they allow tethering to a computer? Computers access a lot more than just “web”

    • Anonymous

      wrong. They will throttle after 80GB of data pushed trough, and over there Tmobile shares towers and network with Orange via EverythingEverywhere joint venture.. And the country is small, and dense unlike the US

      • Anonymous

        But what you say completely contradicts what T-Mobile said of zero caps. Are you sure you’ve done your homework? 

        • Anonymous

          ok my bad, the 80GB mentioned is on rival network Three which slows people down and has fair use enforcment. Tmobile UK claims there will be no fair use stuff involved.

          Would be interesting to see how their network holds up and if the plans last for a long period of time

      • Anonymous

        80gbs is still more than 5 or 10gbs

  • Shanna22

    hmm i live in san diego in otay mesa for those that dont know its like 5 minutes away from the mexican border. And it sucks living here i got t-mobile and it would switch to movistar mx and only get edge and stay in movistar it wouldnt switch back to t-mobile even on the network settings it wouldnt find t-mobile at all and got a huge bill and cncelled it not worth it . got at&t and it stays on at&t only once or twice did it switch to telcel mexico but at&t kicked back in immediatly so no roaming charges on at&t so at&t works better for me.

  • Kirk

    Another check mark against T-Mobile. It’s getting harder and harder to stay with this carrier.

    • And yes these policies are hardly exclusive to T-Mobile. Therein lies the biggest problems, people look at these changes and hate on T-Mobile for them, only to wind up somewhere else with the very same level of concern.

      • guest

        Thank you David for making a very valid point. I wish I could tell you the amount of times that customers come in and threaten to switch because of something that every other carrier does. Before you get mad at Tmo learn about the other carriers policies.

        • CO_yeti

          I bet I can tell you how many times and I bet its similar to Tmo’s churn numbers because those same customers are actually leaving.

        • M42

          Yes, but other carriers actually have 4G coverage or even 3G coverage everywhere. I’m on Edge 95% of the time with T-Mobile.

        • John Wentworth

          I use T-mobile in NJ, but I always have HSPA+ because NJ is covered well, if your on Edge 95% of the time leave, even sprint would provide better coverage likely.

      • Anonymous

        While I don’t have an issue with this specific change, the only caution I would make with your comment David is that people may be with T-Mobile because they are different and possibly because of subtle differences like this one. If T-Mobile removes too many things that are “different” there is less of a reason to stay with them. So that valid point may work for this example, but I’d be careful using this line of reasoning for everything.

        • No, I wholeheartedly agree, I should take that into consideration as well. You are absolutely right in that regard, the problem is…at least right now for T-Mobile is they are looking at all potential areas to cut costs and this may be one of those areas.

        • Dominique

          Maybe their trying to cut costs to make room for the loss of revenue that the Iphone would bring in subsidies.

      • Andre

        The only issue with that is that Verizon or AT&T have more spectrum so there is less need to go off network roaming

        • John Wentworth

          It’s not about spectrum, it’s about towers and coverage. T-mobile has spectrum in many many areas that it doesn’t have coverage, but since they haven’t been doing so well they can’t afford the network build out everywhere, in places their customers infrequently go, it’s cheaper for them to rely on roaming.

    • Anonymous

      the other carriers will kick you out if you roam too much on data, or even voice calls. It’s one of the tricks people use to get off a contract. Talking up a storm then waiting for the phone call to be told they roamed too much and the carrier wants them gone


    one more nail in the coffin.

  • androholic

    Hey David,

    I have a question. When this new roaming agreement from the failed merger kicks in, will we be able to biy unlocked phones such as the note & get 3g data, or will we only be using att 1900 band when tmo’s data is not available?

  • Almamort

    just got the training on that… ppu data allows you 10MB of data roaming, 200 MB data plan allows you 5MB… 2GB allows you 10MB data roaming…5GB allows you 100MB data roaming, and 10GB allows you 200MB….this is set to start on April 5th

    • Dominique

      Correct, I had that same meeting.

    • Eric

      Any word on the old unlimited plans; roaming allotment?

      • Jarrod

        I Rhink you would fall in to the 5gig category because I had the 1500 mins unlimited txt and data and they put 5gigs on mine when they moved away from unlimited.

  • Eric

    I wouldn’t freak out about this quite yet:  T-Mo is set to get a juicy roaming agreement with AT&T, which will 1.) cut their costs (AT&T is their (footprint-wise) largest roaming partner I believe) and 2.) kill off the bulk of their need for roaming agreements, since AT&T will be doing the legwork.  T-Mobile could, logically, slim down the terms of their remaining non-AT&T agreements.  In the end, while it may look bad, this is probably a good thing in the long run for the carrier.

    • Eric

      On further thought, the above could be a stipulation of said roaming agreement.  May as well see how this post’s contents and the pending roaming agreement mesh at this point!


      Just because there is a raoming agreement does not mean it will be free roaming, It hust means that AT&T is going to allow for roaming to take place on their 3G network. They have never done this before and only allowed roaming to occur on their GSM/EDGE networks. While T-Mobile does not charge the customer for all of those roaming minutes AT&T still charges the hell out of T-Mobile for each minute that you use on their network. It will be the same for DATA on 3G. Is T-Mobile expected to let you pay $30.00 per month for data if you were camped on an AT&T system and used $1,500.00 in a month worth of data?


      Just because there is a raoming agreement does not mean it will be free roaming, It hust means that AT&T is going to allow for roaming to take place on their 3G network. They have never done this before and only allowed roaming to occur on their GSM/EDGE networks. While T-Mobile does not charge the customer for all of those roaming minutes AT&T still charges the hell out of T-Mobile for each minute that you use on their network. It will be the same for DATA on 3G. Is T-Mobile expected to let you pay $30.00 per month for data if you were camped on an AT&T system and used $1,500.00 in a month worth of data?

      • Anonymous

        it would be $3,333/month average per customer if the ~10,000 customer figure is correct

  • So yet again, I’ll be paying the same, and getting less. This does away with any advantage of postpaid.

    • Jarrod

      Att probably made a stipulation that u could only use so much data as part of the roaming agreement they’re going to start with 3G

  • JustSaying

    Why can’t T-Mobile improve coverage so we don’t have to rely on roaming!? Most of their coverage is roaming anyway!

  • Yancy

    Lets be honest here, could we even reach higher than that on there crappy, under invested, slow network?!

  • This really isn’t anything new. All carriers limit the data roaming usage. At least T-Mobile is doing it this way instead of cancelling your service a la AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

    • WillieFDiaz

      Sprint will notify you if you go over 3 consecutive months and then change you to a roaming plan that costs $0.03-0.25 per KB roaming charge, or notify you of 30 day termination where you can switch to another carrier.

  • guest

    This message makes sense if I’m traveling internationally – I go to Canada annually.  If T-Mobile now restricts my ability to travel domestically without losing coverage, I’ll probably end up switching providers when my contract is up this summer.  I don’t travel a lot, but I am forced to roam regularly when I’m on the road.

    • Anonymous

      who are you going to switch to? Verizon, Sprint and AT&T all limit data roaming as well.

  • Anonymous

    so T-Mobile sent what I guess is AT&T, $400 milion for data roaming because ~10,000 people each ran up $40,000 on average of data charges for roaming on AT&T. Damn

    • guest

      Crap I forgot what work said, but its either 0.4% or 1.6% of customer’s that would be effected. Either way more than 10k by a lot

  • Robert Williams

    Why is a company looking to build their customer base going to implement something which will lose them customers?

    • In this case, the cost of the roaming charges seems to exceed more than $400 million dollars. That money is better spent on network improvements and handset acquisitions than it is on the roaming charges of a very small piece of the overall customer base.

      • I would tend to agree that money is better spent on the network improvements, however, T-Mobile needs to actually deploy a network in these roaming areas, or tell these high roaming users that its time to use the network they keep roaming onto, rather than keep using T-Mobile that doesnt offer service in the areas they need.

        Instead they would rather punish more of their subscribers, who battled against the AT&T merger, and put up with lack of network deployments, and increased rate plans, hidden fees, and shoddy customer service. Sometime T-Mobile is going to have to address the millions that will leave for not only the iPhone but for AT&T’s larger coverage area and increased HSPA+ deployment. If T-Mobile wants to put caps in place for roaming they need to do so for new customers, rate plan change renewals, and then they can have it based on majority of KB or MB or GBs rather than cutting people off completely. Sorry, but cutting off data roaming is akin to cutting off voice roaming. In emergencies voice is needed, and with a convergence of voice to data networks, it is important not to cut it off completely, roaming or not.

        • Anonymous

          There are no hidden fees, data overages were billed to people using a smartphone WITHOUT a data plan… I mean, really why would you do that?  The point of the overages was to get people on data plans… since they were using data anyway, and to think these plans start at only ten bucks.

          T-Mobile HSPA+ far exceeds at&t’s.  At&t doesn’t even come close.  at&t only has HSPA+ 14 where they have it.  HSPA+42 is like LTE when you have a phone with the full 42 modem in it. Plus T-Mobile is going to benefit in a lot of areas with that increased spectrum.

          And finally, if you ARE really roaming so much on T-Mobile, then yeah T-Mobile is probably not a good fit for you anyway.  You shouldn’t stick with a provider where you are constantly roaming every day.  The roaming is just there if you happen to visit a place or travel through a rural area to get a relatively temporary connection.

        • Tbyrne

          Voice of reason. Gotta love it!

  • Anonymous

    I think the biggest reason for this is because with the at&t data roaming deal going into effect soon, their 1 million + iPhone customers on T-Mobile will suddenly have access to 3G speeds while paying for an at&t plan.  I’m guessing even though T-Mobile got this roaming deal out of the break up fee they would still have to pay at&t for data roaming amount?

  • Leo

    This is when the people who don’t agree with the new terms you can switch without no ETF I try calling yeterday they said no that’s not a reason but on the contract says if they do a material change like this you are allow they trying to act stupid with me

  • Skhansel

    Will this get you out of contract?

    • I hope you read all the way to end of this post, as your answer is contained within!

  • andrewms

    I called with a question concerning my phone still accessing the data service of a roaming network even though my phone tells me i have it set up to NEVER use a roaming network’s data service.

    Not only did they not truly answer my question, they just repeated over and over that there is no t-mobile data network in my area, only AT&T’s data network is…  so how does that answer my question above?  it doesn’t because i’m asking why is it using AT&T’s data network when my phone tells me it will ONLY USE T-MOBILE’s data network – i was asking why my phone is identifying AT&T’s data network as T-Mobile’s…

    What do i get in response?  “there is no t-mobile data network in your area, if you see 2g, 3g or 4g displayed, you’re accessing AT&T’s data network.  Use Wi-Fi to use the internet on your phone.”

    i’m like: “I know there isn’t a t-mobile data network in my area, YOU know there isn’t a t-mobile data network in my area, why is it that MY PHONE thinks there is?”

    response: “there is no t-mobile data network in your area, if you see 2g, 3g or 4g displayed, you’re accessing AT&T’s data network.  Use Wi-Fi to use the internet on your phone.”


  • M42

    Wish T-Mobile would keep building out its 4G HSPA+ network instead of starting over with LTE. As it stands I’m in a very small 4G coverage area and when I turn around I’m in Edge territory. I also roam a lot on AT&T and it’s on Edge. I feel like I’ve gone back in time five years. Wish I had never left AT&T. So why did I you ask? Wife wanted a phone only T-Mobile had. Plus she got suckered in by their unlimited data plan, which isn’t unlimited at all. They throttle you at 2gb.

  • Herbert Murray

    I signed with T-Mobile 19 November 2012. Today 26 December 2012 I went back to AT&T. I was never told about the data roaming limits, and in my buisness 100 MGB is unacceptable. I teather my laptop to my phone and the 100 MGB is gone. No e-mails either,roaming data.There are no such limits at AT&T. I had the Classic plan unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 5 gigs of data. the data works only if I am in one of the very limited data sites. Bye T-Mobile, it has not been a very plesant experience.