AT&T lets travelers roam on LTE in 13 more countries

Japan, South Korea, Spain, France and Russia are among the new places for fast foreign roaming

AT&T thawed out its international LTE data roaming on Monday, adding 13 more markets -- including Antigua and Barbuda -- to the places where its subscribers can use the high-speed cellular service.

The carrier announced LTE roaming in Spain, France, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam and Australia as well as in the balmy twin-island Caribbean nation. In December, AT&T kicked off its international LTE roaming with service in Canada, followed shortly by the U.K., two rather chilly prospects for international travel at that time of year.

AT&T said it already has roaming agreements with mobile operators in more than 200 countries, where service will be launched in the future.

International roaming for AT&T customers costs the same on LTE as on 3G. In all the places where it's offered, subscribers can take advantage of AT&T Data Global Add-On packages, which include discounted rates in more than 150 countries. The plans cost $30 per month for 120MB, $60 per month for 300MB or $120 per month for 800MB.

Earlier this month, U.K.-based Vodafone said it would soon expand its LTE international roaming coverage to 18 countries. AT&T's biggest U.S. rival, Verizon, plans to launch international LTE roaming this year.

AT&T made Monday's announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where carriers and vendors are preparing for broader deployment of LTE worldwide. While the number of LTE networks worldwide passed 200 last year, it's still difficult for many users to get the high-speed service when they travel. Under existing roaming agreements, most mobile users have to step down to 3G or lower speeds or use Wi-Fi.

One reason international LTE roaming has been slow to emerge is that carriers are using a wide variety of spectrum bands for the service. Apple and other manufacturers are gradually adding support for more bands to their devices.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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