Trying to find affordable data packages that work around the globe is more or less a losing battle. Data roaming charges are a cash cow, one that the carriers are loathe to give up. T-Mobile used to have quite a nice plan for their BlackBerry users but suddenly one day that program switched from all data to only covering email. Whoopsie. Sprint and AT&T have had plans that were relatively competitive as well and they’ve actually become more competitive, particularly for the occasional traveler who enjoyed switching the global data plan on and off as they traveled. Leading the pack was Verizon Wireless. They offered unlimited global data for a flat rate that could be switched on and off so the plan was prorated for only the days you needed it. At $65/month it wasn’t the cheapest data package out there but it was incredibly competitive relative to the other options available.
And now it is gone.
Having just returned from Europe I called in to turn off my international plan so as to save a few dollars over the next 3 weeks until I was leaving the country again. I was quite surprised to hear from the agent that if I removed that plan today I would not be able to add it back again. Ever.
There are only two bulk plans available now, $30 and $100 add-ons to the regular data subscription that a customer already has. The amount of data that buys you depends on where you are traveling but the rates are pretty poor. Even worse, the packages only apply for travel to Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Caribbean. Folks visiting Asia, Australia or South America have absolutely no package options anymore. The rates vary in those other countries, from $2/MB up to $20/MB, depending on which plan you are on and where you are.
Here’s the general breakdown of the rates:
|Where?||How Much Data?||Monthly||Overage Costs|
|Canada & Mexico||75MB||$30||$2/MB Canada
|Caribbean & Europe||25MB||$30||$2/MB Canada
Assuming you are on one of these plans all other countries bill at $2/MB on top of the monthly allowances above. Without those plans you pay $20/MB. So if you’re headed to Thailand you can either pay $20/MB or $30/month + $2/MB. They both suck, though obviously the monthly + usage is a better deal as soon as you get over 1.5MB of usage.
Oh, and you’d better come back to the USA and use some voice and data regularly here, too. If not, your account will be terminated “with cause” by Verizon Wireless:
Note: Verizon Wireless will terminate your service for good cause if less than half of your voice or data usage over three consecutive billing cycles is on the Verizon Wireless National Enhanced Services Rate and Coverage Area.
I’m glad my account happened to be on the old plan and that I didn’t call to cancel the day I returned home. Had I done so I would have been screwed.
UPDATE (23 JAN): Minor update…The rates are actually REALLY bad if you are traveling outside of the above defined regions. Rather than $2/MB it is $20/MB, even if you are on a plan. For folks not grandfathered in to the global plan now is a great time to get the phone unlocked and start researching options for local data plan SIMs around the globe.