AT&T Increases Data Allowance for International Plans
In a move sure to please international travelers based in the United States, AT&T has announced new international data packages, to be added to domestic calling and data plans, that are in some cases less expensive than the existing plans, and in all cases more than double the monthly data allowance. The new packages, for iPhone users and other smartphone customers, went into effect on 17 July 2011.
The least expensive international data package, available for $24.99 per month, jumps from a 20 MB/month allowance to 50 MB, and the most expensive, at $199.99 per month, quadruples from a 200 MB/month allowance to 800 MB. Two offerings between those drop in price and increase in allowance: the $59.99/month 50 MB package becomes a $49.99/month 125 MB package, and the $119.99/month 100 MB package becomes a $99.99/month 275 MB package. In all cases, an overage rate of $10 per 10 MB of data applies if the customer exceeds the data allowance in a billing cycle.
AT&T’s new package rates apply in “over 100 countries” of the “more than 200 countries” in which the company offers data roaming. In the others, pay-per-use rates apply.
We suspect casual travelers will still want to keep their data usage to a minimum while roaming outside the United States, but AT&T’s new add-on packages offer more breathing room for those who’d like the security blanket of having data available for sparing use. (If you use cellular data while roaming internationally without activating such a plan in advance, your usage will be billed at the crazy $19.95 per MB rate, so it’s absolutely worth signing up for a plan.)
These phone companies are thieves! Why in the world should the rate be $19.95 / MB if no plan? Their costs are the same no matter what the circumstances. It reminds me of when I first started calling my girlfriend in China and the phone company charged me $3.50 per minute because I hadn't signed up for the $3.95/month international plan. That was instead of the international plans .50/minute. I told them they could take their $500 bill (instead of $71 on plan) and put it where the sun doesn't shine.
Well they may be thieves but since I'm traveling to the UK next month and want data service I'm happy to see this cost reduction. Now if I could only figure out how much data I need. Since most of my home usage is on wifi, I have no idea what size plan to buy. A horrible first-world problem.
I still plan to travel with an extra phone when I go overseas. In my opinion, AT&T charges 10 times more than they need to not only for data, but for texts and regular phone calls too. I guess they figure they can get away with it because it is too hard to do anything else, but I am not willing to play their game.
Insanely expensive AT&T data plans are a great reason to have an unlocked quadband GSM cell phone to use a local SIM card wherever you travel. Sites like http://www.mobileworldlive.com/maps/ and Wikipedia.org list local network providers with links to their web sites. O2 in UK gives a free SIM card and charges £10-14 for 300 texts plus 500 MB web. Orange in Spain charges 6 c/min. voice/text. Another service in Spain charges around €15 for unlimited web.
Why have an extra phone when you can have an unlocked smartphone? Apple is primitive for international travel with the locked iPhone compared to ALL of its competition.
I just got back from a month in the Mediterranean. I used mostly WiFi. I'd use Skype, but never got around to setting up an account.
If you really need a phone, get a multiSIM that can have more than one mobile account per card. UNLOCK YOUR IPHONE!!! Or get one that's travel-friendly like a Nokia C6 or N8.