Balancing Act

T-Mobile’s Free International Data Roaming and Unlimited Text

I recently traveled to the Philippines with my fiancĂ© 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):

T-Mobile's Free International Data Roaming and Texting

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.

4 thoughts on “T-Mobile’s Free International Data Roaming and Unlimited Text

  1. Steve John

    Great article! It is interesting that you mentioned above.I love T-Mobile.I am waiting to get more interesting ideas from your site..
    Thanks for sharing this..

  2. Joe

    I’ve been in the Philippines since March, roaming with T-Mobile as my family uses their phones in the US (allowing me to roam as much as I want since the usage is based on the aggregate of the family’s use). It’s definitely helpful, but the one thing that I keep having trouble with is that I can’t connect to Globe at all. I’ve tried a bunch of times to do it manually over the past several months and it always fails. I always get the the No Service tag at the top left whenever I try and I have to switch back to SMART, which has a slow network to roam on with T-Mobile. Did T-mobile stop partnering with Globe after 2014 for roaming? That’s the only thing I can think of….

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Interesting that you mention that, when we were there in 2013, we connected to SMART but not Globe. When we do get sporadic connection to Globe, our 3G was spotty at best. Didn’t make phone calls while connected to Globe though.

      We just got back from Antigua and we were connected to DigiCell with full service (full bar and 3G data) while on the island.

  3. Adam

    We’re loving T-Mobile. So far used it in London, South Africa, and Australia. Using a Nexus 5 so I haven’t seen the choose carrier thing you mentioned…

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