Verizon Wireless wants to be sure its customers pack one of its phones when they travel abroad this summer.
The carrier confirmed today that four of its Android-powered smartphones will soon get a software update that will allow them to operate on GSM networks -- the dominant global wireless technology and the standard in Europe. Verizon said GSM roaming would be activated on the Droid Razr, Droid Razr Maxx, Droid 4, and HTC Rezound.
"Customers will see a notification on their device when the software update is available for their device," the carrier said in a statement. "After the software update, customers will be able to take their smartphone overseas and use voice service in more than 220 countries and receive data in more than 205 countries."
All of the phones targeted for upgrade are 4G LTE capable and thus have SIM cards. That combination should also allow Verizon customers traveling overseas to swap out their U.S. SIM cards with local SIM cards for less expensive service than what Verizon will likely charge for international roaming.
It's a big step for Verizon. For years, the carrier's customers were unable to use their cell phones while traveling in many parts of the world because Verizon's technology was incompatible with most of the world's wireless carriers.
The company eventually started offering a handful of "world phones" that allowed Verizon subscribers to roam onto most carrier networks overseas. But as the carrier pushed its new and existing customers to sign up for 4G LTE service, Verizon is once again handicapped its customers by not offering an option for global roaming.