Sprint announces free international messaging, data plan

Acting in quick response to rival T-Mobile, US mobile carrier Sprint has announced a new plan that allows users free unlimited text messages and 2G data while roaming internationally. Dubbed International Value Roaming, Sprint's new offering doesn't include voice calls, and is limited to a decent number of countries. Phone calls will be priced at $0.20 per minute. This is in comparison to T-Mobile, which offers the same service in more than 120 countries, and with slightly faster data speeds.

If you're a Sprint customer and all this sounds appealing, then you can text or browse the web without charge while in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the UK. That rounds out to be only a couple of countries per region of the globe. Oh, and about those 2G data speeds, you can expect a maximum of 64kbps. Data speeds on T-Mobile's plan will top out at 128kbps.

Sprint is also rolling out one-time-use International Speed Data Roaming Passes, which offer 3G data speeds for a limited period of time. A 1-day pass allows 100MB of unrestricted data for $15, a 7-day pass with 200MB for $25, and a 14-day pass with 500MB for $50.

T-Mobile may have been in Sprint's targets when coming up with this new international plan, but both carriers could be trying to get ahead of Google's attempts to launch a US network. Just last week it was reported that Google is looking to partner with a number of international carriers in order to offer messaging, data, and calls while roaming for the same price as domestic. In other words, basically eliminating the roaming fee. Such a move would be a sure-fire way for Google to differentiate itself from rivals, unless they can offer similar features as well.