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T-Mobile’s new international calling rates no longer make any sense

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While I’m a huge fan of T-Mobile’s new Simple Choice Global plans, which went live for new and existing customers today, I’ve noticed a few inconsistencies with the pricing of international calls. These inconsistencies are so wild, in fact, that I really hope T-Mobile takes notice and updates pricing to be more consistent – not only is this difficult for the average customer to understand and keep track of, but it will almost certainly lead to confusion and unexpectedly high phone bills due to misunderstanding.

In the examples below, I’m going to use Germany, where T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom is headquartered.

Calling Germany from the United States

  • If a T-Mobile customer wants to call a German number from the US without any international long distance calling package, the price will be $1.99/minute, regardless of whether it’s a landline or mobile number (here’s the full rate list).
  • If a T-Mobile customer adds the International Discounted Calling feature for $7/month, the customer will be charged $0.09/minute for calls to landlines, and $0.20/minute for calls to mobile phones (here’s the full rate list).
  • If a T-Mobile customer adds the International Unlimited Talk & Text plan for $10/month, calls to German landlines are free, while calls to German mobile phones will cost $0.20/minute (here’s the full rate list).

Texting Germany from the United States

  • Texts to Germany cost $0.20 for all customers on all Simple Choice plans, unless a customer has the $10 International Unlimited Talk & Text plan – then texts are free.

Calling and texting while in Germany

  • With the new Simple Choice rate plans, all voice calls are $0.20/minute – regardless of whether you receive a call, whether you’re calling back to the United States, or whether you are calling a landline or mobile phone in any of the Simple Choice Global countries.
  • Texting is also free – again, you can send or receive text messages to or from the United States or any other Simple Choice Global countries.

Here’s where it gets weird…

  • With this pricing model, if I don’t add any extra international packages to my account, I will be charged $0.20 for each international text I send to Germany while I am in the United States. However, when I go to Germany, I will not be charged – even though I’ll be sending text messages from the same US-based phone number. I can also send messages to Italy or any other Simple Choice Global country for free while I’m in Germany – but again, I’ll be charged if I do the same while I’m at home. That doesn’t make any sense.
  • Again, with this pricing model, I’ll be charged $1.99 if I want to call Germany from the United States. While I’m in Germany, I can dial German numbers from my US-based phone number for $0.20. I can also call Italy for $0.20 while I’m in Germany, but calling Italy from the United States will cost me $1.99/minute. Again, that makes no sense.
  • WiFi calling confuses everything even more. I can place a WiFi call to Germany, Italy, or any Simple Choice Global country from anywhere in the world for only $0.20. From the United States, using T-Mobile’s network, I’ll be charged $1.99 for those destinations.

Here’s what I’d like:

  • If international texting is free when roaming in other countries, it should be free at home. It will be difficult to explain to a customer why they can text Italy from Germany for free, but will be charged if they do that at home.
  • The same goes for international calling: If I can call Italy from Germany for only $0.20/minute, I should be able to do the same from home, without having to add any special package.
  • WiFi calling rates should always reflect home network rates – in other words, if I can make international calls over WiFi for $0.20/minute, T-Mobile should match that pricing when I’m using its mobile network. That only makes sense.
  • While we’re at it, it still makes no sense to have unlimited roaming abroad, but restricted roaming at home. Fix that, T-Mobile!

I’m not sure anyone at T-Mobile is listening, but I hope so. I am really scratching my head while simultaneously trying to wrap it around the logic that went into this. Granted, I understand that these plans do offer great value that’s currently unparalleled with any other carrier in the US – but something has got to be done about this.

What do you think?

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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4 thoughts on “T-Mobile’s new international calling rates no longer make any sense

  • Weird how calling a cell phone costs more than a landline. Especially to Canada. Other carriers can do it for free!!!?

    • Landlines and mobile numbers in Canada cost the same.

  • Avatar of Leo Przybylski

    Sorry. This makes perfect sense to me. While domestically roaming on foreign networks, rates are less than if you’re foreign. I don’t get the confusing part here. You should obviously pay less in Germany than in the US. You’re also probably forgetting FCC overhead. If you’re using networks in the US, you are subject to US taxes and fees. Overhead that T-mobile will have to account for. When you’re overseas, you don’t have these issues because you’re using services outside the country that are not subject to the FCC.

    Again, what we see here is a slight lopsided pricing scheme, but it isn’t unintelligible. People pay for what they use. This seems to be where T-mobile is heading. Instead of hitting us with blanket charges and hiding fees like other carriers, they’re giving it to us straight. If you don’t buy a contract phone, you don’t have to pay the subsidy costs. If you use international calling abroad, but not domestically, you get a cheaper rate because it’s cheaper.

    If you’re upset about the rules surrounding the pricing, I suspect you’re not upset at T-mobile, but rather the FCC. It’s just a suspicion.

  • because t-mo is a german company based in the usa so you get better rates when on European soil


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