I recently traveled to the Philippines with my fiancé and both of us took advantage of T-Mobile’s free international data roaming and unlimited texting. Between the two of us, we used up a total of 2.8 GB of data and sent 165 texts in a two week span, from December 21, 2013 through January 2nd, 2014. Of course, the numbers would’ve been much, much higher had we not detour from metro Manila to Coron for 3 days, where coverage was spotty or non-existant at best. Here’s a screenshot of my usage:
Our initial experience with T-Mobile’s free unlimited international data roaming and texting was at the Guanzhou (Baiyun) Airport, where we made our connecting flight after a painstaking 15 hour flight from LAX. Our layover in the airport was 7 hours, so we really had nothing to do other than eat and surf the web on our iPhones. Upon landing, we had to manually select the international carrier from the iOS 7 General Settings menu under Carrier. We chose China Mobile and were connected instantaneously. And almost at the same time, we received an SMS message from T-Mobile reminding us that our international data roaming and text messaging are included at no additional charge and calling to the US from China Mobile was $0.20 a minute (which was accurate, as we’ve made calls to the US and were billed accordingly):
The Edge (i.e. 2G) connection was surprisingly fast and not spotty at all under China Mobile’s network. Pretty good for basic web browsing, social media submersion, email and using apps that make use of the internet. When we arrived at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) in the Philippines, we received the same text message from T-Mobile and had to manually select our carrier as well. We initially tried SMART but for some reason, weren’t able to use any of their services (text, data or voice), so we switched to Globe Telecom. Surprisingly, we were connected to their 3G network instead of 2G Edge. The Globe 3G network was fast, fast enough to upload photos to our social media accounts with no hiccups. But the connection became unstable as we venture out of metro Manila and into Quezon City. To rectify this problem, we had to constantly switch on-off Air Plane mode. This will re-establish connection with Globe 3G. A bit of an inconvenience, but can’t complain when it’s free and included in our T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan. No need to connect to a local Wi-Fi or purchase a local SIM card.
The free international data roaming and texting only applies to 100 of T-Mobile’s included countries. Roaming outside of these 100 countries will incur unprecedented data roaming charges.