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T-Mobile International Roaming in Europe: a Trip Report

T-Mobile International Roaming in Europe: a Trip Report

Old May 24th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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So we arrived in France and decided since we would have family that want to call us on a local French number that we would get a plan here. What we settled on is with Bouygues, a non-contract monthly plan called B&You: https://www.b-and-you.fr/forfaits.html

What we ended up getting was the plan for 19,99 Euros per month which is pretty good. You buy the SIM at a boutique or by internet and you sign up and activate the account on the internet as well.

It includes 3G of data and free calls to US cell phones. We had to fool with our Samsung Galaxy a bit to get it work with the data and MMS part but that is pretty well explained on their site. You have to reset the APN parameters of the phone. Also an interesting thing here for data is that if you exceed your data limit, rather than charge you more, they just slow down the speed until your monthly allowance. There is no contract-you can cancel at any time but then of course like a pay-as-you-go plan, you lose your number.

I realize this may not be the right approach for most people who are only here in France for a few weeks, but I thought I would post it for others who stay longer and may want another alternative.
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Old May 24th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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We used the T-Mobile free data while in Paris. The data was plenty fast. It may depend on your phone - we have iPhones 5s. We used the data a lot - for hours and hours every day. We couldn't get data down inside the metro, but reception was good everywhere else.
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Old May 24th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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It shouldn't depend on your phone at all. My Android phone picks up 3G in the US and is fast enough; in France it was only picking up 2G, and it was slow (usable, but slow, sometimes very slow) most of the time. An iPhone 5s can't magically speed up the data network it is connected to.

As I said above, it may be that if no 2G partner network can be detected, the phone will revert to 3G. I wasn't in Paris proper on my recent trip, only at CDG and then in Strasbourg and Colmar.
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Old May 24th, 2014, 08:27 AM
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Our phones said 3G, so that is what we were getting. I didn't check to see what we were getting out at CDG. You may be right that it is a different network out there. We were on "Orange" in Paris.
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Old May 24th, 2014, 10:30 AM
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Andrew
I will have to see what we pick up. I know that the complaint of the villa we are staying in was that the WiFi service was not good. It is Sorrento.
So maybe we will only get 2G there and maybe not.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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Andrew,
I have an old 2005 quad band Tmobile phone that worked absolutely flawlessly in Germany 2 years ago, yet my wife took the phone to Italy this past Christmas and it would not work. Mexico has not been a problem either. I tried troubleshooting via internet with her to no avail. Any ideas or should I just upgrade to a smartphone that has all the bells and whistles?

Mark
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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aclpcl,
Which brand SIM from which country did you use in Italy?
What kind of plan did you have on that SIM?
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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I switched to T-Mobile just before a 2-week trip to Italy and it worked great. Before I left I asked them what would happen when I exceeded my allowed data and she said it would slow down. I don't think I came close to using all the data and I made and received lots of calls from the US.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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aclpcl: <i>I have an old 2005 quad band Tmobile phone that worked absolutely flawlessly in Germany 2 years ago, yet my wife took the phone to Italy this past Christmas and it would not work. Mexico has not been a problem either. I tried troubleshooting via internet with her to no avail. Any ideas or should I just upgrade to a smartphone that has all the bells and whistles?</i>

What exact make/model of phone? Perhaps it's not really a "quad band" phone after all. If it is just a tri-band phone, it's possible it had one of the frequencies needed to work in Germany, but in Italy it didn't.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 06:13 PM
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rosetravels: <i>I switched to T-Mobile just before a 2-week trip to Italy and it worked great. Before I left I asked them what would happen when I exceeded my allowed data and she said it would slow down.</i>

That's what happens in the US: after you hit your monthly data limit, it drops down to 2G speeds.

Overseas, you are always using 2G, all the time (as part of Simple Choice, not a separate data pass you've bought), unless you can't pick up a 2G network, then apparently it switches you to 3G during that time. There's no 2G data limit on the Simple Choice plan, so overseas it isn't an issue.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 09:13 AM
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I just received my T-Mobile bill from the May trip to Europe.
Yes, it is true. The data roaming charge = $0.00 !!!
And my voice call was charged around $0.20/min to land lines.
My relatives, who all have ATT wireless, were incredulous that T-Mobile has such offer. It is quite surprising that even those who travel abroad at least once a year don't know about the existence of the T-Mobile offer.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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I took my iPad to Canada and I have to say the internet service was painfully slow.
I know I was dependent on the service we roamed on but I was disappointed a little.

So I will see when I take it to Italy
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 04:44 PM
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If you are used to 3G or 4G speeds, then yes, 2G will seem pretty slow. You always have the option to buy 3G passes from T-Mobile or buy a local SIM card from someone else. Or, you can limit your regular use of the iPad to WiFi when you have it and use it with slower 2G when out-and-about occasionally.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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I called T-Mobile and they said not to buy the pass as you roam on the local network and it will be what it is!
It was fine for email but surfing was almost useless there.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:24 PM
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Call them again and ask for someone there who knows what they are talking about. It won't just be "what it is" - it will be 2G (free) without a data pass and 3G (assuming you can receive a 3G network where you are) if you buy a data pass:

http://www.t-mobile.com/optional-ser...QRISOVWTXIL261

<i>Q: Will I get the same high-speed network experience now internationally, as I do here at home in the U.S.?</i>

<i>A: No. Customers will have unlimited web speeds great for web browsing and e-mail, social networking and occasional use of certain features like GPS/maps. Some applications like streaming music or video will be more difficult than when on T-Mobile’s domestic network. However, higher-speed data passes will be available for purchase when you are abroad:

Single day pass: $15 for 100MB (high speed data capped at 100MB)
7 day pass: $25 for 200MB (high speed data capped at 200MB)
14 day pass: $50 for 500MB (high speed data capped at 500MB)</i>
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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To cope with slower speed, even with WiFi, one needs to understand how each application consumes data. Accessing a full featured site can easily require downloading more one 1 MB of data a page and overwhelms the 2G network. Sometimes hotels with poor WiFi might only give me 40k bps. That is a third of 2G speed! I have app and web site bookmarks of many sites. If I have good network connection and need a full featured site support, I would use a browser. If the connection, both mobile and Wifi, is poor, I would use the mobile URL site or an app if that is all I need. App version usually consumes less data. The network only need to carry the data part. Less need to transmit graphics, formats, forms, etc, since that intelligence resides on your device to format the output on a fly in your device.

I could use 2G to operate smartphone based google GPS navigation for driving. It took a few minutes at the start to download enough geographical data of the current location, but once I got going, the network kept up with my driving. If I didn't want to wait in the car for the google navigation to be ready, I started the navigation app about 10 min before I needed, so that before I even got into the car, the phone was ready to navigate.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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thanks. I alredy know at the onset that WiFi where we will be is sketchy.
I will call them again,
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 07:31 AM
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Sher, I'd wait and see what kind of data speed you get. We were just in Paris for 2 weeks and we had free 3G there on our Team Mobile Plan. If you have slow data access wherever you are, you can buy a pass, but be aware your data speed may be just fine.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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A tricky subject with the high-speed pass is how T-Mobile counts "high speed data." I looked up at T-Mobile site and it does not clarify the metrics. The user community discussions I have looked at do not directly answer the question.

The issue is, if I buy a 7 day international data roaming high-speed pass to get 200 MB, and on day 1, I used 200MB 2G data because only 2G is offered in the area, do I have any high-speed data quota left to use for days 2 thru 7? The answer for domestic usage is that all 2G,3G,4G data count towards the quota. It is not clear for the international usage including whether using up the basic 1GB plan quota affects the data pass purchased high-speed usage.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 09:51 AM
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Because I didn't buy a 3G data pass, I'm not sure how it works. I'd call T-Mobile and ask to talk to an expert there because this is clearly beyond the knowledge of many of their customer service reps.
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