T-Mo customers using 28 times more data internationally than before

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Just 8 months ago T-Mobile pulled a fantastic Un-carrier phase out of its proverbial bag. By offering free roaming abroad, T-Mo got rid of one of the biggest restrictions on international travelers. And the data shows it’s working.

This morning T-Mobile announced some key figures showing just how successful the international roaming phase has been. Customers are calling 3 times more, texting 7 times more and using 28 times more data than they were before roaming was made part of the Simple Choice plans.


In fact, since launching the offer, 53% more T-Mobile customers roam internationally than they did before. As for the top countries, seems T-Mo users like Mexico, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Stats are one thing, but personal experience is always better. And I have to say, the press release is refreshing in that it mentions a couple of specific examples of real customers saving a lot of money thanks to the free roaming.

For Bryan Roberts, who travels regularly outside the US, “T-Mobile’s new Simple Global benefits are going to save me over $10,000 a year,” said Roberts. Just over the past six months, he’s visited 10 countries for business and leisure. “I was just in Europe and the UK for four weeks, and the bill came to less than $150. So the cost savings are huge. But I also love that when I’m overseas in a new place, I can find my way around with Google Maps and use data without having to worry about high roaming charges.”

The other example is a business whose operations see workers travel between the U.S. and a couple of other countries. Read the full press release here.

What are your experiences of using the free international roaming? Have you used them and saved a packet? Let us know.

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  • Travlin Man73

    I have used international roaming first had this past December while in Kuwait. It was very very easy and extremely effective. I was able to use it for maps both waze and Google, Google music streaming, app updates another occasional text message. It made my life so easy that I was able to continue my job search without the folks I was interviewing and communicating with knowing that I was half a world away unless I told them.

  • Fabian Cortez

    I wish it was 512 Kbps instead of 128.

    • monkeybutts

      maybe in a few years when most countries switch over to cheaper LTE and HSPA+

    • Alex Zapata

      Gotta start somewhere.

    • Some have reported seeing better speeds than that. It’s perhaps a minimum guarantee.

      PS: using Chrome’s bandwidth management option should help.

  • Robert

    I travel between the US and UK and have really loved TMO’s International roaming. I dont need to do or think about a thing, my phone is just my phone wherever I am and it just works. No hunting down local SIMS, no roaming charges, just simple. It would be extremely hard to get me to switch to another carrier now that TMO has this.

  • Prox

    Cant wait to use this in Europe next month

    • Do let us know when you’re back. Relatives tried this in S. America and it didn’t work very well.

      • Prox

        Worked. Was capped at 128k but service was great

        • Great! I’m heading to Europe tomorrow and plan to rely heavily on data access to move around.

        • Prox

          It’s just enough to use Google maps. Was even able to make calls via groove ip over voip

        • Though the signal was HSPA+ almost all the time and strong, the cap was actually more like 64Kbps, or modem speed. Many apps would time out, including websites relying heavily in JavaScript. The phone could be sluggish at times, perhaps because of apps having difficulty to sync (disabling background sync may be advisable abroad). Placing calls with VoIP providers was a pain. SMS worked fine, but MMS could require several attempts to send. But, yes, navigation would work most of the time and was extremely useful.

          Considering that it was free, it’s hard to complain, but 256k or 512k would be more liveable speeds.

  • Frank Guill

    I travel to Canada a few times a year and it has come in handy. I used 190 MB in three days.

    I also had a player on my plan and he was quite happy being able to use data on the road.

    • Alex

      How is the service, how usable is it at 128kbps just wondering real question not trolling.

      • Just put your phone in 2G mode to get a taste of it. It’s rather usable, if only one thing is done at a time. I tried Pandora and Maps without problems, just the initial delay is longer.

        • Stefan Naumowicz

          3g/4g throttled to 2g is significantly different than an actual 2g connection. 2g is mostly unusable due to insanely high latencies and unreliability of the data even working at all. Being on a more reliable connection throttled to 2g is much more useful.

        • Not so. Your phone may fall back to 2G when the signal is very weak, when even 2G suffers. As I said, try setting the phone to 2G manually and try some apps out. It’s rather usable, as I said above.

        • Stefan Naumowicz

          Maybe you should test that theory out yourself, because in my experience 2g performs very poorly for even the most basic applications, or more frequently, not at all. This is true even in excellent signal areas. When I’m throttled to 2g however, basic applications such as email and web browsing and even some low quality audio streaming work fairly well.

        • I did test it, as I said in my post you firstly replied to. I streamed Pandora and used Maps for navigation without problems, other than a longer initial lag. I didn’t try both at the same time, because I think that then the limits of EDGE would be reached, if not surpassed.

          As I said, if your phone falls back to 2G because of a too weak signal, it’s also too weak for 2G. Then, the performance, if any, is very poor, as you said.

          Why don’t you try to put your phone in 2G and try some apps right now and verify for yourself?

        • Stefan Naumowicz

          If you are truly able to do that then the 2g must be very good in your area, because here I can’t even get Google to load 85% of the time. If you look at my original response, that “initial lag” you talk about is from a high latency due to the lower quality of the network. When your on 3g/4g throttled the latency is the same as unthrottled, so that initial lag is not present; your claim that being On 3g/4g throttled to 2g gives the same experience as being on 2g is wildy inaccurate due to the fact that overall performance is affected by many more factors than bandwidth alone.

          Edit: the poor data performance of my 2g is present even in very strong signal areas

        • 2G uses the voice radio, multiplexing voice and data in the same channel. So, 2G data is as good as voice calls. If one is bad, so is the other. At least in the basic level, though a carrier may, in order to increase voice capacity, keep 2G data to a minimum, since 3G or best is typically available.

          This would explain the difference between what we observe. On 2G, I have 4 bars; on LTE, just 2. However, the signal level is the same for both, about -70dBm. The 2G speed is 150/16Kbps and the LTE, 7/11Mbps.

          Even so, I just confirmed that web browsing, checking email and streaming work satisfactorily one at a time. I took these two screenshots for your convenience: https://db.tt/9EfiBNvG and https://db.tt/6iMq90YO

        • Trevnerdio

          Tell me about it…traveling I-10, full bars EDGE, can’t even start an app download.

        • Alex

          I’m actually on 2g, well tmobile throttled LTE and it’s painful the ping is fast, so is the upload but the download is painful, can’t even stream pandora without it buffering every few seconds, that’s why I’m wondering. I did a speedtest and it’s pulling in 0.04 down so maybe actual edge might be faster. All I know is that 128kbps sounds ok now lol

      • S. Ali

        Use Opera Mini for web browsing. Twitter, E-mail, GMaps all work fine with a small lag. MMS takes like 20seconds to send. You can stream 64kbit audio with no problems. Not bad for free.

      • jyrkesh

        I just did a month-long trip in Europe through the UK, France, Italy, and Germany. For e-mail, Google Maps, Google Voice, and Hangouts, it was a dream come true. Every other tourist I met was absolutely stunned when I could get us home using Google Maps. Albeit, sometimes pulling up directions would take 30-45 seconds, but compared to trying to find an English-speaking local and getting hodgepodge directions, it was completely invaluable.

        I did have a few connectivity hiccups when traveling through northern Italy, but I think it was more a problem with local providers and congestion than T-Mobile. (Some locals I talked to were having the same issue.)

        As a counterpoint, through the countries (other than in McDonalds and Starbucks), true free Wi-Fi was almost impossible to find. Every restaurant I stumbled into had a free Wi-Fi sign out front, but there was always some convoluted registration process if it even worked at all.

        Thank you T-Mobile, for saving my ass as a stupid tourist countless times.

  • futureopen

    I was in Dubai amd Mumbai past November. Its a load off when you have nothing to worry about. Just step out of the plane and everything just works. T-Mobile has tie ups with different carriers(apparently). Coverage was excellent. Data speed was decent. And for $0.20/min its a no brainer.
    Keep up the good work T-Mobile

  • OZ

    While in Peru I was able to stream Spotify @ 96 kbps. Speed was fine for Facebook and Google Maps. WhatsApp was just fine. Roamed like 2.5 GB between 2 phones, during 20 days.

  • Red

    I was on Mexico City last November and the coverage was bad I can’t send text message sometimes I was able to receive some text and my wife was there last month and the same bad internet coverage I send like 40 text message she didn’t receive any

    • iConcur

      Yup, I was in Mexico too. For whatever reason my hotspot did not work at all. I bought it solely for this trip and the promo data plans and it was complete fail. Not sure who is at fault, but it was a huge disappointment.

      FYI, I checked for coverage and that didn’t appear to be the problem. Anyone care to speculate what the deal might have been. I did call in twice to speak to CS and they repeated that I didn’t have to do anything special here or abroad, just use as normal.

      • SZL

        I read in forums that sometimes you have to try and select a carrier manually on your phone’s setting. If one doesn’t work, try another. Can’t guarantee it, but it doesn’t hurt to try. :)

    • Omar Boyer

      I had problems in.mexico roaming on movistar went to network settings choose telcel problem fixed had coverage everywhere on TELCEL, Next time u go try that

  • mingkee

    I am sure a lot of deployed military personnel are getting this benefit.
    You never know few emails and IMs (including whatsapp and viper) can greatly cure homesickness.

    • Gomez

      Im deployed to Kuwait and I used Tmobile for 3 months while I was here. The Data speeds were decent (.5 Mb down and i dont rember how much up) and i always had good signal. It used the Wataniya cell phone towers and there everywhere here. I mainly used it for google hangouts and wifi calling ( we have wifi in the room). I did end up stop using it because i cant have my cell phone with me and it was an extra bill that i really didnt need.

  • Adam

    I just got back from traveling Japan and China and I can’t say enough about how useful T-Mobile’s data roaming was. Saved my butt multiple times and made my Verizon user travelmate extremely jealous. Was really nice to be able to keep in touch with everyone and get information about my location and local culture instantly. Not to mention Google Translate.

    As someone else pointed out, the speeds are limited to 128kbps, but it is MUCH better than T-Mobile’s EDGE network because it is 3G/4G throttled down to that speed, not real 2G. It was really quite a good experience. I don’t even think China’s firewall rules were imposed upon me while I was there.

    • Cam Bunton


    • enkay1

      Yep. The Great Firewall is rendered ineffective because your phone is routing data and texts back to T-Mobile in the States (so they can properly throttle you).

  • mnaz105


  • bluemasterdude

    Do I click/check the Roaming option in my settings on my phone in order to make it work? Always scared I will be charged a fortune.

    • SZL

      yes! Leave the roaming on. As long as you are on the Simple choice plan and are roaming in one of the 120+ countries and destinations. You won’t get charged for data and texts.

  • globaltraveler

    As someone that travels regularly, I cannot say how nice it is to have a real phone that works. My employer provided blackberry device is completely useless, as 90% I need data so I can navigate the cities I’m in. Previously I had used pre-paid sim’s and probably averaged <$7 a month in prepaid usage (reimbursed by employer funny enough). Once I ran out of data, I just let it go and stuck with t-mobile. Frankly this alone, makes switching from other carriers worth it. They offer you to upgrade, but as someone who remembers GPRS and EDGE data speeds, I can live with the speed difference.

  • steveb944

    I’ve saved hundreds! And it’s been super useful as well. Two people on our family plan have been overseas constantly recently and it’s helped us stay connected.

  • peteynice

    I used just over a GB of data in China last month. It was amazing. It saved our asses on many occasions. Including a fun Google Translate powered exchange in a pharmacy.

    Google Translate by talking was hit or miss but by typing always worked (I had the offline dictionary loaded just in case).

    My travelmate was very concerned when they saw me checking my email and looking things up until I showed them the text message. The first thing they did when we got back was #sprintlikehell.

    • Edmund Xu

      That’s awesome! I’m flying to China tomorrow morning, and it’s going to be my first time using the international feature, and I’m a little apprehensive. Glad to hear that you had a wonderful experience there!

  • Logan S

    Wait, no has ever heard of using local prepaid SIM? If you’re on a rush for only a day visit, sure that could be a hassle, but local SIM are widely available in other countries. Cheap data plan choices are plenty. If your phone is CDMA without SIM slots for international use, it won’t work but as T-Mobile customers, you don’t have that problem.
    I won’t even bother with 128 Kbps when I travel to another country. My wife just traveled to Malaysia (first time there), arriving at late at night. Bought a local SIM at the airport, popped it in, and got high speed 1 GB allowance for dirt cheap (compared to US plans anyway). Not only that, her local associates can call her without having to make international call.

    • SZL

      It’s the convenience. Plus it’s free. Not all countries have easy access to local prepaid sims for travelers. It may be cheap to get a sim in Malaysia, but some countries are expensive and activation takes time sometime. I have traveled to dozens of countries and I can say this would definitely be a lot less hassle. Plus it’s free to text and surf. 128kbps is not that terrible. Just think SPRINT.. lol. This is a bonus feature on your plan. It’s not like we are paying extra for this feature…
      P.S. I will be using this in Bermuda next week :)

    • Disestablish

      128 kbps is what is guaranteed, but my experience using it in the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and Spain was much faster, around 2-5 mbps in each country.

    • Omar Boyer

      I agree with Disestablish if u ever used it speed is usually not 128 kbps, I dont know how’s speed in Malaysia but in mexico which I gone 3 times speed is 2-5 mbps which is great cuz my bill was less than 200 when I got home.

  • Joe Joe

    Traveled to Ireland, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi and had 3G service in all 3 locations. This is a plan military members should take advantage of when traveling overseas.

  • ChinaUser

    Love the new international service. Yes, I have a local SIM card, as others have pointed out, but this way I can keep my US cell phone active, get calls and texts, and have a fallback for data (even if it is G2) in case I lose local data (always a possibility in China). Keep up the great work, TMO!