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snidely (Offline)
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Default An alternative to prepaid SIM cards? - 23-01-2016, 19:58

As many of you know, T-Mobile US includes international roaming in most countries. Unlimited text and data. Voice calls are $.20/min. For incoming or outgoing. Calls back to the US over Wi-Fi are free.
Just recently, we started using the voice calling feature on the Facebook subsidiary "WhatsApp". Obviously, this feature can only be used in calling people within your family or group. Your business calls would still have to be made in the usual way. What amazed me was, the voice quality last week of calls between the US and Costa Rica were almost as good as regular cell phone calls. Sometimes the cell phone in Costa Rica was on Wi-Fi and other times was making use of the free data over cellular. Skype, and other similar apps could also be used in this manner.
That the EU is breaking down roaming barriers is one step towards obviating the need for international SIM cards. I'm sure other carriers in the world will follow T-Mobile's lead.

Up until about 15 years ago, those of us in the US paid huge roaming costs just use the phone outside our local area. We had to pay long-distance charges, up until about 10 years ago. For the last five or 10 years there has been no such thing as a long-distance call within the US. It shouldn't be too long before the whole world is considered "local".

I can possibly see the need for a temporary local SIM so that you have a local number to give out when you are in a temporary fixed location for a while.


Make use of T-M's UMA/wifi free calling from any place in the world with access to wifi. I use an LG G6, wife an S7)
A/o Oct 20, 2013 no need for intl prepaid as T-Mobile U.S. includes voice roaming at 20˘/min (in and out)., unlimited text (in and out), and unlimited data in 140+ countries.

My Plan -[6 lines] U.S. T-Mobile unlimited minutes (incoming and outgoing), unlimited text, fast data on each line. that $145/mo. total! . (In U.S. no surcharge for calling a cell.) If a line exceeds 2G of data in a month, pay $10 more for that line. [That only happens a couple times/year.
   
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wolfbln (Offline)
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Default 24-01-2016, 12:07

I don't agree that the world is coming together and we'll get rid of roaming surcharges soon. What happens is that single carriers are taking the lead to have an edge over their competitor. But unless legislation steps in like in the EU, roaming is still big business for most of them.

The often quoted T-Mobile US "unlimited" offer is capped at 384 kbps for roaming. This makes fluent web browsing impossible. Come on, everywhere 4G/LTE networks are being installed and you see 2.5G technology as the best you can get. Furthermore, by their "uncarrier campaign" T-mobile US is blurring the lines between prepaid and postpaid. The fact remains that T-Mobile's prepaid customers are still banned from any 'unlimited' roaming. After all, don't forget this is a prepaid forum! You'll need to sign a contract of min. $50 per month and pass a credit score check. This makes this option quite unappealing, if you are on Verizon and want to make a short trip. You can't just change carriers or buy a 2nd plan for a limited time.

And nobody follows T-Mobile in their US market for worldwide roaming, so far as I can see. Some MVNOs and partly AT&T have added Mexico and Canada roaming to their plans without surcharges. In Mexico AT&T Unidos charges the same for Mexico as for Canada or the US in some plans.

I think this will be the new trend: regional surcharge-free roaming zones like within North America or from 2017 by legislation within the EU. Movistar's "sin fronteras" promotion on Central American networks and Claro's counterpart (this in on postpaid only) is another example.

A second trend has been around for quite a while: by giving 'free' roaming allowances in postpaid contracts like T-mobile US and some other operators on both sides of the Atlantic, they'll try to drive customers to postpaid and further discredit prepaid as operators see the prepaid market as one of a lower margin. Recently, for the consumer a Swiss study came to a totally different result: For domestic voice and text alone 90% of all customers pay less on prepaid compared to postpaid in the EU. But this result changes dramatically when roaming is included and data use.

Looking beyond regions, I can hardly see any signs that roaming rates are really coming down. On the contrary, with more and more data needs and consumption the cost for data steadily increases while roaming surcharges remain pretty high and stable. Ironically, this tendency seems to toughen now in Europe. While roaming rates within the EU are brought down by law, unregulated rates to and from the 'rest of the world' have been increased lately by some carriers.

Last edited by wolfbln; 24-01-2016 at 12:49..
   
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rfranzq (Offline)
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Default 25-01-2016, 03:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbln View Post
And nobody follows T-Mobile in their US market for worldwide roaming, so far as I can see.
Would Google's "Project FI" count?

[I hesitate to bring this up because of my ignorance of it.
Perhaps you or others know more about this and will wish to comment.]
   
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snidely (Offline)
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Default 26-01-2016, 06:17

Project Fi rides T-Mobile international roaming agreements. You have to use Nexus phones.

Wolfbin -
one correction, most countries the data speed is pegged at 110-112Kbps. in Canada and Mexico you get fast 4G or LTE speeds.
The 110Kbps speeds work perfectly for Google maps for a week in Romania and another week of driving in Croatia. Facebook and email works as well as when in the US. Audio streaming works well most of the time. We don't do video even when home.
Prepaid users in the US are considered second-class citizens. No regular carrier incident all the features of regular user receives.
T-Mobile has been the fastest growing carrier the past two or three years since all these changes took place. It sure makes it convenient to be able to use your phone as quickly and easily when you land in Zürich or Hong Kong as it does when you landed Los Angeles.
The only difference when overseas is that you can't tether your phone to your laptop.
US users on all carriers have another advantage. We can program our phone to automatically route international calls via Google voice. We can call most overseas land lines for two cents/min.


Make use of T-M's UMA/wifi free calling from any place in the world with access to wifi. I use an LG G6, wife an S7)
A/o Oct 20, 2013 no need for intl prepaid as T-Mobile U.S. includes voice roaming at 20˘/min (in and out)., unlimited text (in and out), and unlimited data in 140+ countries.

My Plan -[6 lines] U.S. T-Mobile unlimited minutes (incoming and outgoing), unlimited text, fast data on each line. that $145/mo. total! . (In U.S. no surcharge for calling a cell.) If a line exceeds 2G of data in a month, pay $10 more for that line. [That only happens a couple times/year.
   
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wolfbln (Offline)
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Default 27-01-2016, 08:29

As a matter of fact, prepaid users are considered 2nd class citizens in most parts of the world by the providers. But I personally agree with your 2nd posting much more than with your first.

I appreciate T-Mobile US for taking these innovations and their US numbers are excellent now. Living in their home market in Germany, I'd be delighted to see similar things from this company happening here. You probably know that the history of T-Mobile/Telekom is very different on either side of the Atlantic. In Germany, it's the old incumbent ex-state telco - in your country it meant fight or die after the merger with AT&T was banned. Since their new strategy in the US has been so successful, Telekom may give up plans now to sell their US unit. But this was exactly what I've meant, with a single carrier taking the lead to get an edge over it competitors. These cases are rare in the industry: AT&T is trying to do the same down in Mexico breaking the sort-like monopoly of Telcel/America Móvil. But you can hardly argue, that on their home US market AT&T has proven to be very innovative lately.

We are not all socialists in Europe (even if some Americans think so). But to finally bring down and regulate EU roaming rates by law is a consequence of failure of the market here run by almost the same companies. Competition hasn't brought these exceeded roaming rates down. Probably, because there is no real competition in some markets. And sadly, this is true to most regions of the world. The new trend of merging mobile providers in many markets will not be of any help either.

You can't simply take one example like T-Mobile US and think the industry worldwide is changing accordingly. Surely, they've forced their competitors on their domestic market to offer cheaper roaming at least within the sub-continent so far. But this doesn't have any effect to the 95.6% of the world population not living in the US. Or as they say: one swallow doesn't make a summer.

Just to illustrate how dubious our points are on a global scale: I've just traveled another country, which I don't name. There, the world's biggest cellular provider has now 630 million customers - more than all US providers together. The internet is severely censored, even Google is blocked, VoIP is tapped, SMS and chat text messages are blacked out. Furthermore, they clamp down on VPNs to bypass it. When I take their example, our future and the future of the internet doesn't look very bright. Yet, it's the biggest telco of the world in the most successful economy of the last decade where almost all of our cellular devices are manufactured nowadays. Looking at their numbers, you can easily argue, that they are leading the way.

Personally, I don't hope (and think) so. I'd rather be a T-Mobile/Telekom customer, even if they still block VoIP in my home country.

Last edited by wolfbln; 27-01-2016 at 09:08..
   
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snidely (Offline)
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Default 28-01-2016, 05:47

Question: why would they block voip? You'd still have to pay for data.

Comment: one advantage of using T-Mobile US to roam in China was that it enabled us to leap the great Chinese firewall. We were able to use everything we could at home. Everything from Facebook, Google, Google maps, US newspapers etc. even hotel Wi-Fi locations blocked access to much of the Internet.
Why the US, and the rest of the world, doesn't put more pressure on China to shape up is beyond me. Maybe it's because we have all shipped our manufacturing - from cell phones to kitchen goods - to China.
End of political rant.


Make use of T-M's UMA/wifi free calling from any place in the world with access to wifi. I use an LG G6, wife an S7)
A/o Oct 20, 2013 no need for intl prepaid as T-Mobile U.S. includes voice roaming at 20˘/min (in and out)., unlimited text (in and out), and unlimited data in 140+ countries.

My Plan -[6 lines] U.S. T-Mobile unlimited minutes (incoming and outgoing), unlimited text, fast data on each line. that $145/mo. total! . (In U.S. no surcharge for calling a cell.) If a line exceeds 2G of data in a month, pay $10 more for that line. [That only happens a couple times/year.
   
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wolfbln (Offline)
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Default 29-01-2016, 06:26

Why does Telekom/T-mobile still block VoIP in Germany?
Most European providers ban VoIP use in their T&Cs. Their IDD rates are sometimes 100 times higher and they loose revenues.
Some other providers have blocked VoIP in the past: Orange in France, KPN in the Netherlands, Telekom in Germany, Italian providers... But nowadays most carriers still simply ban it in their T&Cs without blocking the ports as this is legally tricky because of net neutrality laws in the EU.

Outside Europe/America it's because of two reasons: lost revenues for ex-state telcos and security issues. Many national secret services probably don't have means to tap VoIP. So it's totally blocked e.g. in the UAE and some Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Morocco, Comoros - all blocked). Skype uses a special interface in China to let them apply their "firewall". South Africa has opened a public hearing recently after the 2 biggest mobile providers have pushed hard for a block. So this will be around for us some time to come....

Last edited by wolfbln; 29-01-2016 at 06:31..
   
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Default 30-01-2016, 22:42

Depending on the VoIP application, one should be able to circumvent blocks by creative (non-standard) port assignments. I think snidley's point was not that T-Mobile's free (but slow) international roaming data was so fantastic but rather that it was at least good enough to support some VoIP applications to provide free voice calls. Things have indeed come a long way from when I was using pay phones, triggering callbacks to make calls home. Or even going to the telephone office and being assigned a booth to make my brief and expensive call home, for which I paid the attendant.
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