T-Mobile adds $5 LTE international data pass as free roaming spreads

T-Mobile has expanded its unlimited data and texting to 70 new countries, while adding a high-speed data day pass for those who want faster service and unlimited calls, too. The additions are to the T-Mobile ONE plan and the carrier's Simple Global roaming package, which as of July 22 will cover "over 210 countries and destinations" according to the carrier.

Simple Global began with North America, but expanded to Europe and South America back in late 2015. It basically extends the unlimited data and texting that subscribers get in the US to when they're roaming, while calls are charged at $0.25 per minute. There are, however, some caveats.

The most significant is the data speed. While T-Mobile may not be capping how much data you can use while roaming abroad, you do get limited by speed throttling. Indeed, you're looking at 2G data speeds, which means a trickling 128 Kbps or thereabouts. Enough to pull down your email and such, but certainly not for streaming music or anything more data intensive.

Along with the expansion of T-Mobile ONE Simple Global, there'll also be a new International Data Pass option to address that limit. For $5 per day, you'll get an upgrade to LTE speeds when roaming. Unfortunately that's not unlimited: instead, the data pass is capped at 512 MB per day.

After that, you'll return to 2G speeds. You can, if you prefer, purchase a second data pass, getting another 512 MB of LTE-speed data for another $5. T-Mobile says it will permit a maximum of two passes being purchased every 24 hours.

The pass also includes unlimited talk time without the $0.25/min charge, and of course you still get the unlimited texting that the regular Simple Global plan includes.

International data is seldom cheap when you're roaming, and even if it is there are usually some compromises to be made, such as in speed. It's often cheaper, indeed, to pick up a prepaid local SIM at your destination, drop that into your smartphone instead, and rely on that for getting online when you're outside of WiFi coverage. Still, if you're making a shorter trip, don't have an unlocked phone, or just can't deal with the potential language hassle of buying a SIM, T-Mobile Simple Global certainly covers more than AT&T or Verizon's international data passes, and its high-speed add-on is half the price, too.