UK Carrier Drops International Roaming Fees: A Trend I Can Get Behind
Three, the U.K.-based mobile operator owned by Hutchison Whampoa, just launched a new feature called “Feel at Home” in seven countries where it also has local networks: Australia, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Ireland. In short, it lets you use your mobile plan — calls, data, messaging, etc. — the way you would at home, whether you’re on a contract or a prepaid plan.
This, of course, sounds awesome, and I’d love to see more of this. International roaming — especially data roaming, especially when it’s $20 per MB — is one of the most absurd rip-offs in mobile. While rates for AT&T and Verizon subscribers have improved over the years, they’re still much higher than they should be, and other carriers like T-Mobile still only have rip-off rates.
This was one of the great hopes I had for Verizon Wireless when it was still part-owned by Vodafone: A large, international network of roaming services at rates that made you excited to use your phone abroad. (I’m also surprised that T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, hasn’t jumped on this concept.) Even if there is a slight surcharge — sure, there are some costs involved in roaming — that would be a great pitch to many frequent travelers. But now that Verizon is buying Vodafone’s stake, who knows.
In the meantime, I’ll keep taking advantage of my unlocked Verizon iPhone 5, and will keep filing global data roaming reports.