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Summary:

Verizon Wireless next week will begin selling international data roaming plans much the same way it sells domestic data: buckets of megabytes for a set price. But don’t expect to get a lot for your dollar. Verizon is selling 100 MB for $25 a month.

iPhone Paris Eifel Tower
photo: Flickr / bredgur

Verizon Wireless next week will begin selling international data roaming plans much the same way it sells domestic data: buckets of megabytes for a set price. But don’t expect to get a lot for your dollar. Verizon is selling 100 MB of international data for $25 a month with access to CDMA and GSM/UMTS networks in 120 countries. That works out to be $250 a gigabyte, about 16 to 25 times what it charges domestic data usage.

Those prices may be exorbitant, but they’re still a vast improvement over what it offered beforehand. Previously Verizon sold a 50 MB bucket for $30 a month, a 150 MB for $75 and 300 MB for $125, which works out to between $416 and $600 a GB. In addition, if you were to go over your allotment in one of those old plans, overage fees of $5.12 a megabyte would kick in ($2.05 in Canada) so if you were to actually consume a gigabyte of data while overseas you could wind up paying nearly $5,000 for the privilege.

With the new plans, you’ll still pay dearly to use your smartphone internationally, but at least those extremely high rates are consistent. You can sign up for the service when you leave the country and discard it when you return, and if you go over your allotment Verizon gives you the option of buying another 100 MB bucket for $25 rather than charging punitive overage fees. To access most international networks, though, you’ll need a dual-mode phone like the iPhone.

If you’re actually foolish enough to use data services without signing up for an international plan, then don’t be surprised if you have to take out a second mortgage to pay your bill. Without a plan, Verizon charges $20.48 for a single megabyte. That amounts to more than $20,000 per gig. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Image courtesy of Flickr User bredgur

  1. This reminds me so much of the voice too of Verizon. I tried making a call to St. Thomas, a US territory, and it was $1.99 per minute. In the end I downloaded an app from Dial91, http://www.dial91.com. This is a calling card used primarily to phone India. I think it cost me a penny or two. The app uses Wi-Fi to send the call, so it doesn’t even use my minutes or my data. I am going to research if there is an international data plan similar. That would be very helpful.

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  2. Having recently come back from Europe on a business trip, I would say this is a huge issue for travelers. The cost of data or voice while overseas is ridiculous, and it is very difficult to find 3rd party sources to go around your carrier to get data while you’re there. Someone needs to step up and be the network for international travelers and offer reasonable international roaming rates, though I will say with the prices above they are getting closer to reasonable.

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  3. Wi-Fi roaming as a complement to cellular data roaming is becoming an area of increasing interest for carriers and for people who travel internationally. T-Mobile USA does offer a global Wi-Fi roaming service, although they only sell the service to large corporate customers. In full disclosure, iPass did provide T-Mobile the service.

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  4. Why not just buy a sim card from a local carrier while overseas?

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