T-Mobile’s new “Mobile Without Borders” feature allows its subscribers to treat Canada and Mexico as if they were part of the U.S.. That means that they:
- Don’t have to pay voice or data roaming fees when using their T-Mobile devices in Canada or Mexico,
- Get high-speed data service at no extra charge, including LTE where available, when using their devices in Canada or Mexico, and
- Can call across any of the US/Canada/Mexico borders — even from Canada to Mexico — at no extra charge.
Here’s T-Mobile CEO/Wacky Spokesmodel John Legere announcing what’s happening in 4 minutes and 44 seconds:
“Cross a border, and [AT&T and Verizon] jack up your rates 120 times for data,” says Legere. “You know why? Just so they can make more money off of you! In fact, they’re projected to make nearly 10 billion dollars in global roaming charges this year at margins north of 90 percent.” He points out that while other carriers offer roaming packages, the onus is on you to guess what your mobile usage abroad will be.
If you’re thinking “What’s the catch?”, you’re right — there are a few, but in my view, they’re pretty minor:
- If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you don’t get it automatically; you have to opt in. I’ve already logged into my T-Mobile online account and can’t find any announcements or way to opt in, but this feature was just announced.
- Customers currently on certain T-Mobile promo plans, such as older unlimited plans or the “bonus 2.5 gig plan”, will have to either switch to a new plan or pay an addition $10/month in order for Mobile Without Borders be available to them.
- You have to spend more than half your time in the US to qualify. This will disappoint any people who live in Canada or Mexico who were planning on capitalizing on this offering.
- If you’re on T-Mobile’s Data Stash program, which lets you roll over unused data allotments to the next month, your extra data won’t be available to you while you’re in Canada or Mexico. T-Mobile says it won’t always be this way.
T-Mobile will still have to pay roaming fees to its Canadian and Mexican carrier partners, and it appears that they’ll eat these costs. This tactic is pretty consistent with many of the other ones they’ve used to differentiate themselves from the competition.
As a T-Mobile user based in Tampa (where their service is quite good) and who travels to Canada at least a couple of times a year, this is great news.