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T-Mobile offering free ‘unlimited speed’ international data to some subscribers

Perhaps the most annoying thing about traveling abroad is having to shell out bundles of cash for slow mobile data speeds. Most cellular providers don’t offer international roaming plans on the cheap, exactly — AT&T’s Passport plan starts at $40 for a month of 200MB of data, and an equivalent, weeklong plan on Sprint is $25 — and don’t guarantee a minimum download speed. Perhaps sensing an opportunity for a bit of publicity, self-styled “Un-carrier” T-Mobile is doing something about it: it’s offering free “unlimited speed” data to its Simple Choice subscribers this summer.

From July 1 through August 31, T-Mobile is upping the speed of Simple Choice customers’ roaming data. Transfers on foreign networks, which are typically capped at a measly 128Kbps, are getting a boost to the highest downlink available in selected regions — up to “4G LTE speeds,” T-Mobile said. And better yet, customers who take advantage will retain unlimited text messaging and a discounted, 20 cent-per-minute international rate on voice calling.

The benefit is available on T-Mobile’s roaming partners in Europe with the exception of the Pyrenean country of Andorra, plus Belize. (In the case of the latter, T-Mobile said subscribers will be limited to 2G data speeds and text messaging, albeit without caps.)

“The carriers see your summer trip as the perfect occasion to slam you with insane international roaming charges,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a press release. “Travel with T-Mobile, and you can use your phone the way you want without thinking twice.”

T-Mobile took the opportunity to announce a second, simultaneous promotion: Gogo in-flight internet for all. During the weekend of June 24 through 11 p.m. June 26, the mobile service provider will offer gratis one-hour web sessions to all passengers — including nonsubscribers — who happen to find themselves on flights equipped with Gogo service. It’s a taste of what T-Mobile began offering Simple Choice customers on June 13 as part of a new subscriber benefit: an hour of in-flight Gogo Wi-Fi on “more than 4 million flights per year” across the U.S., plus no-strings-attached unlimited usage of messaging services like Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, iMessage, and Viber.

T-Mobile’s latest promotion is the second in recent years to expand overseas benefits and plans. In May, it debuted The Tourist Plan, a three-week international pass that offers customers 200MB of 4G LTE data, a bucket of minutes, and unlimited texting. And T-Mobile began offering Simple Choice customers unlimited data, texting, and 20-cent-per-minute calling in select countries beginning in late 2013.

The promo follows the launch of T-Mobile’s “Un-carrier 11” benefits package, which saw Simple Choice subscribers gain company stock, VUDU rental credit, free movie tickets from Fandango, and other treats and goodies. It’s had a bit of a rough go, though, lately: the carrier was forced to drop an offer for a free Domino’s pizza when T-Mobile customers “overwhelmed” the chain.

See T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan