Just a week after the E.U. passed legislation against Continental roaming charges and Apple went big with its new Apple SIM technology, there's even more good telecom news for travelers—this time from "Un-carrier" T-Mobile. Today, CEO John Legere announced plans to move all U.S. customers to a North America home network, which will make calling and texting free for travelers throughout Mexico and Canada. The move comes two years after T-Mobile launched its free global data roaming initiative, which offers free Internet usage in more than 140 countries. The catch there? Slow data speeds that are often reported to be in the 2G range.
The question now: will there be a similar catch with the new call and text services? T-Mobile says travelers can expect unlimited, free service across the North American continent worry-free, though fine print on the company’s website says that this is a “limited time offer” and is “subject to change.” Also in the fine print: a strongly-worded caution that excessive usage can result in the termination or restriction of a customer’s account—not unlike T-Mobile’s tendency to throttle web browsing speeds for users that exceed a certain monthly bandwith. And calls over Wi-Fi still incur a charge of 20 cents a minute.
Two things are for sure. As the telecom industry shifts towards unified international networks and Wi-Fi calling (an increasingly popular feature that’s now available on all new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models), roaming will organically become less and less of a concern for travelers. And until that shift is fully realized, moves like this one will be welcome news for anyone with a passport.
Nikki Ekstein is the Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.