Twenty years ago I changed cell phone carriers to sign up with Nextel. I chose Nextel because their service allegedly worked in both the US and Europe (using a newly released Motorola handset). That turned out to be a hit-or-miss kind of thing, though. I think I managed to complete a few calls with it, but it was a pain in the ass and most of the time it didn’t work. It was also pretty pricey.
I’ve waited ever since then for a truly global phone service available from a US carrier. That is, one that doesn’t require me to call up and order a special plan for a month. One that doesn’t cost a small fortune. One that doesn’t require a local SIM. One that just works.
And I have to hand it to T-Mobile: that’s what they advertised and that’s what I got. When we landed in Dublin, my phone connected just like it would if I had landed in Atlanta. In South Kerry, it continued to work. In London it works. There’s no extra charge. And phone calls are 20 cents a minute, which is perfectly reasonable.
You don’t get 4G performance. Occasionally you don’t even get 3G. But most of the time you do, and it’s more than adequate for routine stuff like texting, reading email, posting to Facebook, etc.
All that’s left now is for America’s lame banks to offer a true chip-and-PIN card, and European travel will have finally entered the 21st century. I supposedly have one, but it gave Sainsbury’s fits last night. I shall investigate this more methodically and report back.