US Operators Beef Up International Offerings

While European operators fret over how they're going to replace lost roaming revenue following EU-mandated price cuts, several US operators have announced new plans and products designed to encourage their subscribers to use services overseas. AT&T last week announced new phone and PDA data roaming plans which offer users 20 megabytes of international data along with unlimited data in the US for as little as $45 per month. Granted that's not great, but it's better than paying $400 for that 20 MB at AT&T's standard 1.95 cents per kilobyte charge. RIM has also announced the BlackBerry 8830, which runs on both CDMA and GSM networks, and will be sold by Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Verizon is also launching a "Global BlackBerry" service for the device, where it provides users with a GSM SIM card and service through its partnership with Vodafone. Sprint will also provide 8830 users with a SIM and sell them service, which allows them to receive calls overseas on their usual number. However, Sprint isn't forcing people to use their services overseas -- they're leaving the GSM side of the phone unlocked so travelers can also insert other operators' SIM cards and use their service. Obviously should users do so, Sprint won't see any revenues from roaming, but it's a pleasant surprise to see an operator choose such a customer-friendly path.

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