Dear Lifehacker, T-Mobile in the US is about to start offering unlimited data and texting worldwide at no extra cost. So can I get a friend or someone to sign up a plan there and then use that SIM card here in Australia for unlimited data? Thanks, Data Greedy
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The short answer: no you can’t, and it wouldn’t necessarily be much of a deal even if you did.
The longer answer: T-Mobile has indeed announced that from late October, it will include unlimited roaming data and global texting on some of its contract plans in the United States. While that’s designed to appeal to US citizens who are travellers, it’s tempting to see if you could make use of that as an Australian.
T-Mobile, however, is entirely alive to this possibility, and its own conditions make it crystal clear that you can’t use this as a permanent overseas roaming solution:
Not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network. Device must register on our U.S. network before international use. Service may be terminated or restricted for excessive roaming or misuse.
So it’s not going to happen. Even assuming you can find someone who is willing to sign up for the plan and go through the credit check and other hassle that goes with it, you’re going to be cut off once it becomes clear that you’re not actively using the service stateside.
And even if you could score that deal, it might not make sense. For starters, it would only be useful for data, and not much use for that. One key point: this deal doesn’t include any form of tethering — it only works on a single, specified device. So it won’t work as a sneaky means of hooking up all your devices to a roaming network.
Even with your single device, you’ll never be certain which network will be on offer — roaming often switches between networks. Meanwhile, anyone trying to call or text you within Australia will be paying international rates, and any calls you made would also be charged at additional rates.
There are plenty of prepaid plans available that offer unlimited calls and text and a decent wodge of data for similar money. Examine one of those options instead.
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