T-Mobile Offers Call, Text and Data Plan That Includes Canada and Mexico Without Roaming

Move Is Latest in 'Uncarrier Amped' Positioning

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John Legere
John Legere

T-Mobile is promising that making calls, sending text messages and using data in Canada and Mexico just got easier.

T-Mobile, the nation's fourth-largest wireless carrier, has unveiled a feature for its Simple Choice plans called Mobile Without Borders, which allows customers with smartphones to call landlines and mobile phones, send text messages and use data in Mexico and Canada without incurring roaming charges. It also works for subscribers who travel to Canada and Mexico, whose charges will be the same as if they were still in the U.S. Existing Simple Choice customers will have to opt into the feature. The offer starts July 15.

The move is part of T-Mobile's recently launched "Uncarrier Amped" campaign, which kicked off in late June with a promotion called "Jump on demand" that allowed users to upgrade smartphones at will for a monthly fee. The latest announcement is also a step beyond the company's October 2013 announcement, which offered unlimited international data and text services at no extra charge for its Simple Choice customers, though that offer was limited to a slower 2G connection whereas today's announcement is for LTE data. All Simple Choice pre-paid plans are also included in the offer.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere said during a call Thursday that 35% of all international calls and 55% of all international travel from the U.S. was to Mexico and Canada. He noted that the carriers raked in nearly $10 billion in global roaming charges at over 90% margins, for coverage the Uncarrier now includes at no extra cost.

Carriers are looking to connect with customers who frequently have commnucations with people in Mexico. AT&T acquired Mexican carriers Lusacell and Nextel Mexico, with the goal of running a seamless network in the U.S. and Mexico. AT&T offers unlimited calls to Mexico via its $5-a-month World Connect Value plan.

On Thursday T-Mobile also announced preliminary customer numbers, saying that it generated 2.1 million total net customer additions, including over 1 million branded postpaid net customer additions,marking the ninth consecutive quarter that T-Mobile has added more than 1 million total net customer additions and the fourth consecutive quarter with over 1 million branded postpaid net customer additions.

The move also comes as the U.S. carriers are increasingly going after each other, calling one another out in advertising. Last week Sprint unveiled an $80 a month all-in plan, though the offer originally throttled online video with a maximum speed of 600 kilobytes per second at all times. The company reversed the throttling after many consumers read the fine print and complained. Ads for the promotion went directly after AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

After that announcement, Mr. Lagere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure got into a Twitter spat, which was instigated by Mr. Lagere, who has been referring to Verizon and AT&T as "dumb and dumber."

Mr. Lagere said that there is definitely another Uncarrier Amped announcement coming in the next couple weeks, and another announcement before that. He noted that the company's earnings will be July 30, noting that "by then I think the other guys will be crying so much they might need help," referring to his competition.

T-Mobile is the nation's 11th-largest brand by U.S. measured media, according to Ad Age DaCenter analysis of Kantar Media, spending about $696 million in 2014. AT&T is the biggest brand by that measure, spending about $1.4 billion in 2014.

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