Verizon is now offering U.S. subscribers international calling for $2 a day in Canada and Mexico, and $10 a day in 65 other countries. When a customer makes a call, texts, or uses data while traveling in a country covered by the new TravelPass program, they are charged for coverage that lasts 24 hours. In addition, TravelPass deducts minutes, text and data usage from customers’ existing domestic plans.
In 2013, T-Mobile started a price war with its Simple Choice Plan that provides free international roaming. In comparison, AT&T Passport provides international roaming, 120 MB of data, unlimited texts, and $1 a minute calls, for a $30 monthly charge. Sprint has its’ International Value Roaming plan which offers customers 2G speeds to surf the web, read emails and text for no extra charge when visiting major areas of Latin America, Europe and Japan. Plan users can also call anywhere in the world from these countries for 20 cents per minute.
While T-Mobile and Sprint international service is limited to 2G speeds, Verizon may also have some limitations that are worth noting. First, its phones are CDMA, which may not work on GSM networks which are more common in Europe and most other regions. In addition, the CDMA phones that do work may not have 4G capability on GSM networks. For example, Verizon’s 4G LTE networks are on the 700 and 1700 MHz bands, while many European countries are on 800, 1800, or 2600 bands.
Verizon’s TravelPass program may be cost effective for a select number of employees that take short infrequent trips to Canada or Mexico. Another group that might benefit are those that don’t prepare ahead of time and are likely to be hit with high roaming charges that could induce a bad case of bill shock.
Most enterprises will find it is more cost effective to plan ahead and say “no deal” to Verizon’s TravelPass because a SIM card for $20-$30 will be sufficient for most employees. For a two week business trip, TravelPass would cost $140 extra compared to a $20-$30 SIM card that would allow for 1GB or more of data usage. Managers of enterprise mobility programs need to avoid their own case of bill shock by letting international travelers know that there are better ways to spend money when traveling overseas.