T-Mo's Unlimited International Email: country links, caveats & notes
August 2, 2007 12:37 PM   Subscribe

For U.S.-based world travelers, T-Mobile offers the only cheap unlimited worldwide email plan (requires a BlackBerry, old or current). Here are links to coverage maps for the 115 countries it covers, along with costs, caveats and notes re. the plan. This list is a much more eyeballable and planning-friendly expansion of T-Mobile's drop-down country list.
posted by allterrainbrain (16 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I'd say this post is in the wrong place, but I don't think there is a place for this kind of thing. -- mathowie



 


Below is a list of everywhere T-Mobile and its partners provide data coverage to T-Mobile users, as of July 2007, with notations re. how much of each country is covered. Click any country name to see T-Mo's map of its coverage area. Note that this list is a subset of all the countries from the T-Mo drop-down list linked above, because many countries on that list provide only voice, not voice + data.

This list is a first step towards answering my AskMe question (which only got one answer, basically saying "man, I wish there were an answer too"). I made it for my own reference and I'm sharing it with the usual disclaimers (this is unofficial, not guaranteed perfect, not a substitute for your own up-to-the-minute research, etc.). I'm not a telecom employee, just a frequent budget traveler who needs to keep her home fires burning from the road.


Prices & perspectives in this post are U.S.-centric. Comments/additions from T-Mo customers based in other countries are very welcome.


________________________________________________________________
COSTS

To take advantage of all this coverage cheaply, you'll need three things:

1) any BlackBerry handheld that works with T-Mobile ($0 to $350; see next paragraph).
2) an unlimited BlackBerry data plan ($30/mo if you don't also have a voice plan with T-Mobile, or $20/mo if you do -- either of these data plans requires a 12-month commitment); and
3) the "Unlimited International Email" add-on for BlackBerry ($0.67/day -- billed by the day, hop-on-hop-off).

You can find used and old-model BBs for around $50 that still work fine for just email. T-Mobile sells two new BB models with full keyboards (as opposed to the partial-keyboard Pearl models, not recommended for heavy email users), for $200 and $350. If you want a voice plan as well as data, the best deal right now seems to be Amazon's $0 price (after a $50 rebate) for T-Mo's $200 model, if you start a $60/mo
voice+data plan
.



________________________________________________________________
CAVEATS & NOTES

When they say "Unlimited International Email," they mean EMAIL. Officially, this add-on only covers receiving and sending email (up to ten different email accounts) via the BB's own email client. For anything else (web browsing, laptop tethering, clicking on the web links in any html email you receive, or using any other BB programs that connect to the internet), you'll pay $0.015/KB, a.k.a. $15/MB. (You can find plenty of anecdotal reports from people who've found this limitation was not in effect for them in certain countries, due to the telecom setup of the country in question [at the time they visited]... but, needless to say, you investigate that at your own wallet's risk.)


Any regular (POP) email accounts can be included in your ten allowed BB accounts, as can any web-based accounts that allow POP access (such as Gmail).

In most of these countries, data coverage is GPRS rather than EDGE -- so it will feel slower than your U.S. access -- but that doesn't matter much for email-only usage.

As for voice calls: if you don't have a voice plan on your BB, you can still call a la carte with it, for $0.20/min (at home or abroad). For example, in a country that says $0.99/min on its coverage-map page, your BB voice calls would cost $1.19/min. So for heavy voice calling outside the U.S., you should probably get a cheaper SIM locally and pop that in when you need to make voice calls, then switch back to your T-Mo SIM when you want the cheap unlimited email again. (If you ever need a T-Mo customer service rep, that's a free call from your BB anywhere in the world.)

Final note: if you're only traveling in areas where you know you'll have access to free reliable wifi, a wifi-capable handheld such as an N800, iPhone or unlocked E61 would probably be better for you. This BB solution is best for people who travel in a variety of areas, metro and non-metro, and/or are domestic nomads who can also use the BB all over the U.S. not just as their handheld but also as their traveling laptop modem & their day-to-day home internet connection.)


________________________________________________________________
THE LIST


SUBJECTIVE COVERAGE NOTATIONS:
A = coverage in all or almost all of the country
B = coverage in half to most of the country
C = coverage in less than half of the country but more than just a few population centers
D = coverage only around a few population centers

COVERAGE NOTATIONS ASSUME THAT IN ANY COUNTRY WHERE THE PROVIDER OFFERS DATA AS WELL AS VOICE, THERE'S DATA COVERAGE EVERYWHERE THERE'S VOICE COVERAGE. I asked two different T-Mo reps, who both said this is "almost always" the case but you have to check with the individual carrier to be sure. (The carrier is usually -- not always -- named below the coverage map.) There are no separate data-coverage maps.


ALGERIA: D (mostly along the northern coast)

ANGUILLA [no coverage map provided]

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: A (also extends into water)

ARGENTINA: C (mostly in the south)

ARUBA: A (c. 95%)

AUSTRALIA: D (almost all in the southeast + a few bits on the west coast)

AUSTRIA: A (95%+; small gaps in center of country)

AZERBAIJAN: C (about half, evenly distributed around the country)

BAHAMAS [no coverage map provided]

BAHRAIN: A (100%)

BARBADOS: B (some lack of coverage in northern tip)

BELGIUM: A (near 100%)

BERMUDA: A (100% and extends into water)

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: C (pretty equally distributed w/ some emphasis on the east)

BRAZIL: D (only Sao Paolo & a few other tiny pockets)

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: A (100%) [for U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, see U.S. below]

BRUNEI: C (mostly just northern coast, but extends well into water)

BULGARIA: B (c. 85%)

CAMBODIA: D (c. 10%, mostly around Phnom Penh)

CANADA: C (c. 15%, concentrated along the southern edge and major metro areas)

CAYMAN ISLANDS: A (95%)

CHILE: C (c. 30%, strong along the central coast)

CHINA: C (c. 35%, strongly concentrated in the east)

COLOMBIA: D (c. 10%)

CROATIA: A (c. 95%, incl all coastal islands & waters)

CYPRUS: B (c. 80%, all but northern arm)

CZECH REP.: A (near 100%)

DENMARK: A (100%)

DOMINICA: B (c. 70%)

DOMINICAN REP.: C (c. 25%, incl all around Santo Domingo)

ECUADOR: C (c. 20% of mainland, c. 30% of Galapagos Islands)

EGYPT: D (c. 10%, mostly around Cairo)

EL SALVADOR: C (c. 35%)

ESTONIA: A (100%)

FAROE ISLANDS [no coverage map provided]

FINLAND: A (95%+, with gaps only in the far north)

FRANCE: A (c. 95%)

FRENCH GUIANA: D (tiny bit on northern coast near Cayenne)

GEORGIA: B (c. 75%)

GERMANY: A (near 100%) [well duh :)]

GREECE: A (c. 95%)

GRENADA: A (c. 95%)

GUADELOUPE: C (mostly on Grande-Terre)

GUATEMALA [no coverage map provided]

GUERNSEY (U.K.): A (100%, extends well into water)

HONG KONG: A (100%)

HUNGARY: A (c. 95%)

ICELAND: C (most of west coast; pockets around other coasts)

INDIA: C (many pockets around population centers)

INDONESIA: C (about a third of Jakarta, about half of Bali)

IRELAND: A (c. 95%)

ISLE OF MAN (U.K.): A (c. 90%, extends well into water)

ISRAEL: A (c. 95%)

ITALY: A (95%, with non-coverage areas concentrated in the north)

JAMAICA: A (c. 90%)

[• JAPAN has T-Mo data, but their data won't work with U.S./Euro T-Mo devices]

JERSEY: A (100%)

JORDAN: B (c. 70%, very strongly concentrated in the west)

KAZAKHSTAN: D (c. 5%)

KENYA: C (c. 15%)

KUWAIT: A (100%)

LATVIA: B (c. 60% "high coverage," 35% "variable coverage," 5% no coverage)

LIECHTENSTEIN: A (c. 90%)

LITHUANIA: A (c. 95%)

LUXEMBOURG: A (c. 95%)

MACAU: ? (Taipa & Coloane are 100%; mainland is c. 60% "high coverage," c. 40% unknown coverage [marked in a checkered pattern that's not included in the map key])

MACEDONIA: A (c. 90%)

MALAYSIA: C (c. 35%, concentrated in the western half)

MALTA: A (100%)

MARTINIQUE: B (c. 70%)

MAURITIUS: A (95%)

MEXICO: C (maybe 35% overall, pretty evenly distributed except little coverage in the north near Texas & along Baja California)

MONACO: A (100%) [coverage map provided is France]

MONTENEGRO A (c. 90%) [I'm putting it here alphabetically and giving it a separate coverage %, but it's not in T-Mo's drop-down because it still shares an entry with Serbia (...which kind of makes you wonder how often they update these maps, since Montenegro's been a separate country for like 14 months...)]

MONTSERRAT: D (less than 5%, nothing around Plymouth)

MOROCCO: B (c. 50% overall, ranging from near 100% in most of the northwest to under 5% in the south)

NETHERLANDS: A (near 100%)

NEW ZEALAND: B (c. 70% overall, strongest in the north and along the southeast coast)

NICARAGUA: D (under 10%, mostly around Managua)

NIGERIA: D (c. 10%)

NORWAY: B (c. 80% overall; strong in the south and all along fjords & western edge, weak in the far north)

OMAN: C (c. 25%, strongest in the north)

PANAMA: C (c. 30%, mostly central and west; almost no coverage east of Panama City area)

PERU: D (c. 5% in small pockets, strong around Lima)

PHILIPPINES: C (c. 25%, pretty evenly distributed)

POLAND: A (c. 95%)

PORTUGAL: A for mainland, B for Azores (near 100% for the mainland; roughly 80% average across the Azores, with Flores & Corvo at c. 50% each)

QATAR: A (near 100%)

ROMANIA: B (c. 85%)

RUSSIA: D (well under 5% overall, but closer to 30% in the region directly around Moscow)

SAN MERINO [no coverage map provided]

SAUDI ARABIA: D (c. 10%, concentrated in the center around Riyadh)

SENEGAL: C (c. 30%, concentrated along the coast & the northern border)

SERBIA: B (c. 75%, more in the north than in the south) [this % is counting only Serbia, not Serbia + Montenegro as listed]

SLOVAK REPUBLIC: B (c. 90%)

SLOVENIA: B (c. 85%)

SOUTH AFRICA: B (maybe 70% overall, but closer to 90% in most of eastern half)

[• SOUTH KOREA has T-Mo data, but their data won't work with U.S./Euro T-Mo devices]

SPAIN: A (over 95% on the mainland, 100% on the Canary Islands)

SRI LANKA: C (maybe 30%, concentrated around Colombo)

ST. KITTS AND NEVINS [no coverage map provided]

ST. LUCIA: B (c. 90%)

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: A (c. 95%)

SWEDEN: B (c. 80%, but close to 100% in southern half)

SWITZERLAND: : A (c. 90%)

TAIWAN: B (c. 70%, close to 100% along all coastline)

THAILAND: A (c. 90%)

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: B (c. 70%, strongest near coasts)

TURKEY: B (c. 80%, stronger in west than in east)

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS [no coverage map provided]

UKRAINE: D (c. 25%, strongest around Kiev and along railroad lines)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: A (c. 95%, extends well into water)

UNITED KINGDOM: A (c. 90%, close to 100% outside Ireland)

[• UNITED STATES INCLUDES PUERTO RICO & THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, at no extra charge for U.S. customers (for either voice calls or data -- meaning that during PR and USVI travel you don't need the International Email add-on, and you can do unlimited web and tethering just like in the U.S.). There's no single U.S. map, but there's a zip code search from which you can zoom out to view about half of the U.S. at a time. This search returns errors if you try PR or USVI zip codes... anybody know how to find those two coverage maps, especially PR??]

URUGUAY: C (c. 60% total, but large amount of this is designated "variable coverage")

UZBEKISTAN [no coverage map provided]

VATICAN CITY: A (coverage map provided is Italy map, but Rome looks like 100%)

VENEZUELA: D (mostly just northern coast)

VIETNAM: C (concentrated around coastal areas)

__________________________________________________________
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:37 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


What in the holy hell?
posted by absalom at 12:44 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


WHAT

THE

FUCK

WENDELL?

posted by wfrgms at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming this was supposed to go on the travel site?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2007


Well, at least I've learned that there is a travel site.
posted by Shakeer at 12:47 PM on August 2, 2007


WTF Mate?
posted by craven_morhead at 12:48 PM on August 2, 2007


Did you guys hear about Paris Hilton? She's like...famous.
posted by JPowers at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2007


Good god.

Of course, people who live in civilized countries (as well as uncivilized ones, actually) have had this ability pretty much... forever. In fact, what t-moble is offering is pretty much just a phone that will work in the civilized world
posted by delmoi at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2007


While not technically relevant to this thread, I'd just like to say that sharks really, really scare me.

Thank you.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Flagged as... something? Not flagged? I don't... I don't even know how to proceed here.

Projects, maybe?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2007


Hey guys, I've noticed an error on MetaFilter. Apparently there are posts other than this one. Can we do a mass delete of every other post ever or what? Because people looking for this post are just going to get confused if they see anything other than this post on the front page.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


FPP? Anyway, FWIW:

For an additional $20 a month, on top of the data plan, you get full international data roaming i.e. no further charge whether using email, web access on your BB (browsing, google maps etc). and using your BB as a tethered modem.

This, quite frankly, kicks ass. A hotel I regularly stay at in London charges $30 (GBP15) a day for internet access so it's well worth it.

Also note that T-Mobile lets you activate and deactivate the international data plan as when required. It's pro-rated if you just use it for a couple of weeks.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2007


Whoa. GYOFBAPITP! (GYOFB and post it to Projects!)
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2007


I think you just failed at the MetaFilter.

IMG, why hast thou forsaken me?
posted by GuyZero at 12:53 PM on August 2, 2007


this is not happening!!
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:55 PM on August 2, 2007


Holy crap! It's almost four o'clock! I gotta get to blacksmithing class. I'll catch you all on the flip side.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:55 PM on August 2, 2007


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