Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 13, 2013

T-Mobile getting rid of its overseas fees

Customers don't need international plan.

NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile is eliminating fees for using data and texting services in more than 100 countries and capping charges for international voice calls.

Starting Oct. 31, customers of T-Mobile’s flagship Simple Choice plan won’t have to worry about getting hit with so-called roaming fees if they fail to sign up for an international plan before they travel abroad. Those fees can reach hundreds or thousands of dollars for a trip, even to neighboring Canada or Mexico.

T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. cellphone carrier, has been trying to differentiate itself from bigger rivals by shattering longstanding industry practices and calling itself the “Un-carrier.”

The company began in March by dropping conventional two-year service contracts in favor of selling phones with installment plans. In July, it introduced a program that lets people upgrade phones more frequently — up to twice a year. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have since followed with their own frequent-upgrade plans.

At the time of the phone-upgrade announcement, CEO John Legere said a third major change was coming — the one T-Mobile announced Wednesday.

In an interview, Legere said roaming fees are very profitable for the wireless industry, but T-Mobile hasn’t benefitted much because it doesn’t have many business customers who travel. With the new program, Legere said, the company is hoping to gain subscribers without sacrificing much revenue.

But even if the company doesn’t gain customers, Legere said T-Mobile won’t be losing money in providing the service. That’s because its existing agreements with wireless carriers around the world allow for more data use than T-Mobile’s customers are using now.

In addition, T-Mobile will make some money from selling higher-speed roaming plans — $15 for a day or $25 for a week. The free plan will be good enough for email, social networking, Web browsing and other common tasks, but customers who like to watch high-definition video might want the upgrade, the company said.

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