If you’re an iPhone user based in Europe, you’re going to have greater control over data roaming when iOS 8 makes its public debut this fall. Apple has added the ability to toggle Internet connectivity specifically alongside the general data roaming switch in its latest iOS 8 beta.
Three U.K. has today announced that customers will now be able to use their U.K. allowances of calls, texts, and data in the United States and three other countries at no additional cost as part of its “fear-free” Feel At Home roaming initiative.
Carriers are constantly talking about the limited spectrum available for mobile devices. That’s the reason that give for instituting data caps and throttling heavy users. It’s reasonable to assume that carriers exaggerate the real issues somewhat when the trot this argument out as a case for data caps and tiered data pricing (they make a lot of money that way), but it is true that radio spectrum is a finite resource. With Cisco predicting an 39-fold increase mobile traffic use will over the next four years, carriers will need to find creative ways to manage the slices of spectrum that they have.
One option is to offload service to Wi-Fi networks. All iPhone (or other smartphone) users do this already to some extent when we connect our iPhones to our home networks. They deliver better performance and let use as much data as we want without having to worry about it impacting our next bill. Two mobile trade groups are looking to turn this same offloading model into a large scale option for carriers to deliver better mobile broadband while taking the load off their 3G or 4G networks.
Starting April 5th, T-Mobile will begin capping the Domestic Roaming Data Allotment. Unlike their data throttling, once a user goes over their designated allotment,they will simply be cut off from data altogether, until they return to the T-Mobile network or connect via WiFi. While this change is unlikely to affect the majority of us (when’s the last time you used data while roaming?), T-Mobile will send out warnings via text message when your domestic roaming data allotment has reached both 80% and 100%.
Do a lot of international traveling and like to bring your iPhone with you? AT&T just made their international data plans a lot more affordable. Don’t get too excited, though: when you’re talking international roaming, “more affordable” still equals “pretty darn extortive.”