When Verizon Wireless announced their new international phone and data plan, TravelPass last year, it was pretty big news. Phone calls and data used to cost a fortune when traveling internationally. With the new TravelPass, Verizon Wireless was allowing users to pay $5 or $10 a day to use their existing phone, text and data allotment abroad.
All you had to pay was the $5 or $10 a day, depending on which country you were traveling in. Then, you could talk, text, surf as much as you want, within your monthly limits. In my case, our country is grandfathered into some pretty large data allowances, so we never usually run out. Folks who have subscribed to newly re-introduced unlimited data plans were probably pretty happy about TravelPass as well.
I had a short overseas trip this week and came to find out that Verizon Wireless made a change to TravelPass. I’ve used it dozens of times since rollout and never received a message about throttling data speeds until this week:
Sure enough, the Verizon Wireless website now reflects that you only get 512MB of high-speed data a day before they start throttling speeds:
Instead of paying per minute, per message, or per MB you’ll be charged a flat rate with TravelPass. The daily rate is $5/day in Mexico and Canada and $10/day in other countries where TravelPass is available. You’ll use your minutes, messages and data allowances from your domestic plan. 4G data speeds apply for the first 512 MB/day with reduced speeds thereafter. The daily charge only applies on days you use your service outside of the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
512 MB might seem like a lot of data, but I pretty much live on my phone when traveling abroad. On top of using it for Google Maps, it’s my primary device for keeping up with work e-mail. I exceeded my allowance both days I was overseas and got to experience the throttled data speeds. I don’t feel like I used anywhere near 512MB either day, but that’s what Verizon Wireless said and there’s no easy way to contest that.
They were pretty bad. At first, I thought they were 3G-ish. But, that was when I was on 3G networks. I was bouncing between LTE and 3G pretty regularly. When I would bounce back to LTE, the speeds would often get slower.
The Final Two Pennies
TravelPass is still cheaper than the previous versions of data plans, where you would pay for chunks of data. That’s especially true if you text and make phone calls, since the old rates for those could be $3 or $4 a minute in certain countries. Still, at $10 a day you can spend a decent chunk of extra cash to stay connected.
Now I’ll have to be extra careful about getting WiFi passwords every time I’m in a restaurant, etc when traveling abroad. Because the throttled data speeds are pretty bad.
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