AT&T Now Has LTE Roaming In Canada, But Oh Boy Could It Cost You

This Canadian $10 bill would only buy you about 612 KB of LTE usage on without one of AT&T's add-on plans. (photo: Triborough)

This Canadian $10 bill would only buy you about 612 KB of LTE usage on without one of AT&T’s add-on plans. (photo: Triborough)

Thinking of visiting our neighbors to the north? If you’re an AT&T customer, you may be interested to know that the company is now offering LTE roaming, and AT&T is currently the only American wireless provider with such an arrangement. But what you need to know is that it doesn’t come cheap.

The company announced today that it has made a deal with Rogers in Canada that gives AT&T LTE users access to the Rogers LTE network, but at prices that are remarkably expensive.

If you don’t buy one of the “Data Global Add-On” packages from AT&T, you’ll be paying $15.36/MB ($.015/KB).

Let’s put that into perspective. Download a 150KB restaurant menu PDF; that’s $2.25, not including the data used up just loading the web pages or accessing the e-mail it took to get to that PDF. Download a 4MB song and your bill goes up by more than $60. Stream a few hundred megabytes worth of video and you’ve spent more than you would on non-roaming service for several months.

The Data Add-On packages do significantly decrease your roaming costs, but also highlight just how ridiculous the pay-as-you-go price is. The lowest tier costs $30 for 120MB, dropping the per-megabyte cost to $.25/MB, one-sixtieth of the roaming cost without the package. The most expensive add-on package is $120 for 800 MB, or $.15/MB — that’s 1/100 of what AT&T charges for roaming on LTE in Canada.

Confusion over international roaming fees has resulted in numerous stories of customers with unexpectedly overblown bills, like the kid who ran up $201,000 on his T-Mobile bill during a two-week trip to Canada, the Verizon customer who was charged $1,558 in roaming charges even though she didn’t use her phone, or the Airman who got hit with a bill for $16,000 for international roaming in spite of the fact that he wasn’t technically traveling internationally.

Regulators need to examine the costs of international roaming, as one has to wonder how AT&T — and any wireless carrier — can justify charging anywhere from 15 cents to 15 dollars for the exact same service.

T-Mobile recently announced it was pulling the plug on many international data and texting fees for customers on its Simple Choice plan.

Last spring, AT&T and the other major wireless carriers all finished putting an alert system into place that would help to prevent bill shock by letting subscribers know when they have reached limits or when they are roaming internationally.

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