By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — Phase 3 of T-Mobile’s “uncarrier” strategy includes dramatically lower rates for international calling and international roaming, plus a promotional partnership with singer and songwriter Shakira.
The plans were announced during an outdoor concert by Shakira in Manhattan’s Bryant Park.
The carrier also announced the nationwide expansion of its LTE network months ahead of schedule to reach more than 200 million people in 233 metropolitan areas.
Shakira performing at T-Mobile's un-carrier event.
In detailing the international calling and roaming plans, president/CEO John Legere said that cellphones are built to operate in multiple countries but that consumers are “forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them.” Costs can soar to $1,000 per day if U.S. consumers used their cellphone in foreign countries as much as they use them in the U.S., he said.
To overcome that problem, T-Mobile is initiating its Simple Global program beginning Oct. 31. The program enables subscribers of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans to automatically get unlimited texting and unlimited 2G EDGE data in more than 100 countries worldwide. Voice calls will cost only 20 cents per minute whether made to locations within the visited country or to the more than 100 countries included in the Simple Global program, including to the U.S.
Travelers who want data speeds faster than around 128Kbps will pay for 3G or 4G speeds under a Speed Boost program. Faster rates are available in $15/100MB, $25/200 MB, and $50/500 MB packages for consumers. Different packages are available to enterprises.
Wi-Fi texts will cost 20 cents each.
Eligible Simple Choice users won't have to pay an extra monthly fee for the Simple Global services.
For consumers who want to make calls from the U.S. to foreign countries, T-Mobile launched the new Stateside International Talk & Text plan to reduce the cost of calling and texting from the U.S. to Simple Global countries. For a $10/month fee, customers pay a maximum of 20 cents a minute to any landline or mobile number in any Simple Global country. Unlimited calling to landlines in more than 70 of the countries is included at no extra cost. Unlimited texting to all countries is also included in the plan.
Stateside International Talk & Text is available to most Simple Choice customers.
To promote the plans and the T-Mobile brand, the carrier teamed with Shakira to create marketing initiatives that will include “breakthrough advertising campaigns” to raise awareness for T-Mobile products and services and for The Barefoot Foundation, a charity backed by Shakira to build schools in Latin America.
The carrier and singer will also work together to promote and market Shakira singles and albums, “create and distribute unique content, and deliver once-in-a-lifetime T-Mobile customer experiences,” the company said.
Unlike most sponsorship arrangements, T-Mobile and Shakira “will work together to help amplify key messages and initiatives for each other,” the carrier continued. That will include a “select number” of special events for the public and exclusive fan engagement activities.
Under Phase 1 launched earlier this year, the carrier rolled out Simple Choice no-subsidy no-contract plans, an optional equipment installment plan (EIP), and an accelerated LTE rollout. T-Mobile’s Phase 2 strategy includes a $10/month JUMP (Just Upgrade My Phone) program in which Simple Choice subscribers on the carrier’s equipment installment plan are allowed to upgrade their phone up to twice a year if they lose or break it or simply want to upgrade to a new model.
Also as part of Phase 2, the carrier extended its Simple Choice no-contract family plan to consumers who don’t pass credit muster.
Most T-Mobile indirect retailers, excluding national chains, offer the no-contract Simple Choice plans and EIP, and T-Mobile has begun rolling out its JUMP plan to indirect retailers as well, a spokesman told TWICE.
For his part, analyst Mark Lowenstein called the new international rate plans “simple, predictable, and transparent.” Travelers will no longer have to peruse rate tables before heading out on a trip or “navigate the maze of ‘local SIM’ and other options they have taken to protect themselves,” he said.
The program “will be an important differentiator for T-Mobile, especially for postpaid users and those in the business market where the company is anxious to gain share,” Lowenstein said. “T-Mobile appears to be especially going after AT&T, which has been the most aggressive of the U.S. operators in offering international packages of various sorts to subscribers.
Lowenstein called the prices of the 3G/4G speed boosts for international travelers “cheaper than a day of Wi-Fi in most European and Asian hotels.”
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