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  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I still haven’t seen many reviews of the service from anyone who’s been on it for awhile, so I’m hesitant to make the switch (primarily because of the device cost, since I don’t actually need a new phone). I’ll be following along for updates…

    • I’ll be sure to do a follow up. But I think it is worth considering the device cost could be reduced if you just keep the packaging and sell the phone on eBay or whatnot.

      I was also hesitant with dropping AT&T and going to T-Mobile, so I decided to try T-Mo before cancelling, I wasn’t actually aware of the $50 fee for this, but even with it, I think it was worth trying out, if I was correct, I’d recoup that quickly.

      And remember it’s always going to be subjective based on service area.

  2. I find $10/1GB too expensive. Some months I use 100s of GBs on sprint, and pay the same fixed small business plan rate for many years – it includes unlimited text and unlimited data. Sprint’s coverage > TMO, but is almost always inferior to ATT & Verizon. In some areas TMO’s 4G >> Sprint, but I think Sprint does an excellent job overall unless you’re in timbuktu.

    Abroad, Sprint now gives free data promised at 2G speeds in a growing number of countries, though this number is much smaller than T-mobile. Surprisingly i’ve had fast 3G speeds in other countries such as Japan and Korea, whereas T-mobile had less than 2G speeds. Internationally, T-mobile wins IF you want to bring your own plan with you. Some countries have much cheaper plans locally.

    Basically to me, if you are a ravenous data consumer, then Fi is overpriced. Abroad, the price point may certainly be more attractive as I would pay a premium when traveling, but at T-mobile speeds? That’s an emphatic no for me. Fi seems to only make sense if you are a small data consumer, but not TOO small, as there is still that monthly fixed cost. So unless you fall within that range, T-mobile and Sprint seem to be the biggest bang for your luck.

    I am also keen on seeing how Fi will perform, and how the rates will change over time. This country is so underdeveloped in terms of technologic advancements because of the monopolies, but at least Fi, like Google Fiber, is gradually placing pressure on the major telecom and cable companies.

    • It really depends what you are doing. I use a lot of data, but I rarely do when traveling via phone or tether. I like the idea of fast(ish) data in my hand for things like a quick lookup/navigation etc.

      Most hotels I’d have decent, and often free wifi, so it is for the ‘inbetween’ times for me.

    • If you’re using hundreds of gigabytes per month on your mobile, you should probably uninstall BitTorrent and see about getting a Wi-Fi router for your home. Your usage is not just in the top 10% or 1%; it’s in the top-infinitesimally-small percent.

      This is why we can’t have nice things. It’s like Martin Shkreli chiming in to a conversation about which generic brand of aspirin is better.

      • Ouch. I don’t torrent on my phone. I do upload and download a lot of video and docs on my phone itself, and rarely use tethering. And yes, I have xfinity tv/internet and use it and hate its unreliability.

        I don’t deny that I may be in the top 10%, or 1%, for now. Some months i use 30 GB, some months upwards of 100. I can tell you that in this day and age, if you are not using a lot of data yet, you will be soon. Try watching some youtube videos/vodcasts/podcasts etc on your phone, or saving them to your phone for when you travel. That eats up data. I also use dropbox/dropsync and that has been indispensible for short/long travel for a quick and easy backup/redistribution solution. I also tend to think that the people whom 1) read this blog, 2) are trying to squeeze the most out of their data plan 3) specifically for international travel, 4) have to pay their own cell bills, 5) and travel enough to not want to pay a sky-high bill for international data plans are all within the 1% or at least top 10% in the WORLD.

        Hate to come back to the US vs many developed countries, but modern consumption requires updated technology, which is slow to progress in the US. If you go to Korea or Japan, or even 3rd world asian countries their speeds are blazing fast, and they would not believe the ridiculous pricing we pay. Granted the area covered in the US is a lot more vast, but I can’t help but think we are being charged an arm and a leg.

        I used a Nexus and another android phone on my travels with T-mobile and got slow speeds in many areas, but from the data points below I’ll have to check it out and try it again on future travels. Seems like Fi may be better than i thought too based on what DGS’ data points

        • You make good points. I’d probably be in the same range if I didn’t have good wifi nearly everywhere I go. 🙂

  3. Sooo where the heck are you going that T-Mobile isnt going to be fast enough for you? I’ve gotten 3g speeds all around the world..it’s still slow imo but fast enough. Maybe i just got really lucky. I agree it can be slow in the US sometimes, especially if you are not in a city. I am curious to see how well project fi works though so I’ll be looking forward to your follow up.

    • Just the facts state that Tmobile should run at 128K and Fi at 256K.

      If I actually got good US coverage with Tmobile I might risk taking it overseas, but if I did I would not be able to return it, so rather than gamble I’m exchanging it for what appears, by all the data, to be a smarter option.

  4. I’ve used 2 t-mobile sims in 2 different phones simultaneously on trips to panama, ireland, malaysia, korea (not north!), japan. slow was the consistent trend on BOTH phones. i still like that it’s available though and think it’s still the best “cheap” option for international travel with a US network

  5. I have been in many countries with the iPhone 6/T-Mobile and often the phone would connect to that country’s LTE network. So it was plenty fast for me. I don’t think they enforce the 128KBit you found – wish I could back it up with some speed test… On the downside it takes any network it gets and some seem to be slower than others. So if you are motivated you can get the phone to switch roaming partners.

    Another TMO killer feature for me is the unlimited worldwide texting (and they even let you text for free on Gogo while in the air 🙂

  6. My 2 cents! 🙂

    About 4 weeks ago, I switched to T-Mobile on the current promotion of 6 GB LTE per line for 4 lines for $120 ($30 PER line for 6 GB per person, not pooled). I came from an grandfathered unlimited AT&T plan, and only switched because Band 12 on the new iPhone 6S/Plus (also Nexus 6/P, if you swing that way) dramatically improves T-Mobile’s reception, and in my tests of iPhone 6 vs. 6S series, I have found this to be very true. My T-Mobile reception now is on par with my AT&T reception before.

    Internationally, I’ve only been in Canada and Mexico but have had LTE in both countries. My friend just got back from Japan and Taiwan with her iPhone 6S T-Mobile and had LTE in both countries as well.

    So far, my family and my friends that have switched to T-Mo recently (at least 5 friends in the past 2 months) have all experienced great reception with T-Mo and internationally as well. I think the driving factor to our success here is the Band 12 reception, so getting a phone that supports it is key.

    Getting 6 GB of LTE for $30 and unlimited 3G/4G/LTE in most countries is worth more than Project Fi, I think. I also looked into Project Fi myself, but I use too much data for it to be worth it. I don’t really want to feel like I need to monitor my data usage or decrease it when I’m traveling. If anything, I want to feel comfortable increasing my data usage while traveling.

    • It’s great that it is working out for you, the only thing I would suggest is that you may be optimistic when you say:

      unlimited 3G/4G/LTE in most countries

      As many people report getting slow speeds in other countries.

  7. I tried Fi (on a 6p) I found it was holding on to T-Mobile’s network even when Sprint would be faster. It was using T-Mobile’s Edge network when there was Sprint EVDO Rev. A. If AT&T has the coverage you ject don’t like the price you might check out Cricket that is what I ended up doing. Coverage in US, Mexico, and Canada. I know they have an international add-on but don’t know anything about it.

  8. Speaking as someone who travels abroad 8-30 weeks per year, was on T-Mobile and switched a few weeks ago to Project Fi:

    – The difference between 128K and 256K is huge. Practically unusable vs fine for everything but streaming audio/video
    – Texts for Project Fi will route through WiFi, so even at remote houses w/ no cell signal you’re fine. Photo texts also do, whereas T-Mobile MMS is essentially unusable
    – Fi calls automatically route through WiFi where possible, and charge $0. Calling my mother in NJ from Capetown had better call quality than Skype usually does, had my number show up on her caller ID, and was free.

    Fi isn’t perfect – I’ve had some issues with it automatically picking up new networks while country hopping. Nexus 5x is a a great phone for the price so not limiting for me, and the cell bill dropped from $67 to $33. Would very much recommend overall.

  9. Hi, thanks for post, personally i use my regular verizon phone with their new travelpass program fantastic and cheapest simplest way to go
    Sam

    • I’d give it points for simplest, and the price isn’t bad for occasional travel, but $10 a day can really add up if you travel a lot, this is where I think Fi/Tmo has an advantage price wise.

  10. I’m on T-Mo and also considering Fi. One advantage of T-Mo, the way I see it is that you still get unlimited connection even on 128. Painfully as it is, I found in many places it was still better than nothing when you’re in a pinch.

    The worst shortage of T-Mo is that it loses connection in the most ridiculous places, even here in NYC. Some places in PA have been without TMo coverage for years. There is no excuse for that, really.

    Another huge advantage of FI is that it allows tethering. I am old-fashioned and hate working on a small screen. So, that’s that.

  11. T-Mobile offers free texting with international numbers (while in the States), if that matters to people thinking about this, not sure if Fi does offer anything like that.

    I have no complains with T-Mobile about quality or speed (they are rapidly growing in quality and business volume, I think they are well passed Sprint now) but I’m tempted to try Fi, Being that it routes calls via wi-fi by default (as stated above) I’m curious how the quality of the calls compares with traditional cell signals.

    It would also be interesting to hear about tethering experiences with T-Mobile and Fi, that is as far as getting internet to you laptop and/or other devices from the cell signal.

  12. Matt–do you know if the opt out provision that kicks in with the increase in price for AT&T data also allows for unlocking of a phone purchased under contract? Have held on to unlimited data for a long time but wondering if it is time to give it up. Thanks!

  13. I have used Fi (and data-only SIM) internationally and here are my observations/thoughts:

    #1 It *can* connect to LTE . However, the speed is capped around 256kb/s as advertised. Being connected to LTE does NOT guarantee high speed. That being said, 256kb/s is enough for regular usage, including calls with Hangouts (FREE to US/Canada, VOIP rates from 1c/min elsewhere).

    #2 You may pause and resume the service anytime and it will be prorated down to the hour (or even minute/second). The only catch is one can only pause once during a billing cycle.

    #3 If one stays more than 1-2 days in a country, it is probably better to buy a local SIM. Data is usually very cheap. For example, it only costs around $1/GB at full LTE speed in Sri Lanka.

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