Sprint’s international roaming amenities have trailed behind T-Mobile’s and have more recently been running up against pressure from AT&T and Verizon as the two have introduced new unlimited data plans.
After leading the low-cost edge with its Unlimited Freedom plan package, the Kansas-based carrier is now coming around to update its Sprint Global Roaming Service, complimentary to its postpaid plans.
Sprint now boasts partners in 165 destinations — 20 more than T-Mobile, but less than the “over 200 countries” available on AT&T Passport and Verizon’s International Travel Plan.
Free texting and free data at speeds of up to 64kbps are available in designated areas while calls cost 20 cents a minute. Phones must be GSM-capable, but most devices sold at Sprint within the past few years are.
Mexico and Canada benefits include free calls from the US, free LTE-speed roaming data and free calls and SMS while in the countries, but only for those under the Unlimited Freedom plan umbrella, which starts at $50 a month for a single line. Those stuck on deprecated plans will pay $2 per day or $10 per week for LTE roaming.
What’s really new is that every other destination now gets in on that high-speed roaming as well, though at a higher cost: pretty much every subscriber is subject to a daily $5 fee or a weekly $25 fee for the LTE upgrade. However, the cost for roamers in China is $10 a day and $50 a week. Keep in mind that local network conditions and device compatibility may keep speeds relatively low — ask a service representative.
Basic benefits are automatically applied. Customers can purchase LTE data plots through their account pages at any time.
Comparing international feature sets between the major carriers on a holistic level, Verizon’s has the most restrictions and is the most expensive to maintain. AT&T Passport comes in the form of three tiered packages that have to be used over the course of a month (a one-time purchase lasts 30 days, but Passport can also be a recurring purchase).
T-Mobile’s offering does have unlimited data at its destinations, but its higher general starting price for its pre-requisite T-Mobile ONE combined with a maximum 256kbps speed cap on the T-Mobile ONE Plus plan limit its potential. The Un-carrier does offer free Gogo-supplied Wi-Fi onboard select domestic flights.
Perhaps we’ll see a little bit more competition in this field now as Sprint has opened up the doors to global LTE roaming.