Sprint has fired a new salvo in the wireless industry's war for world travelers.
The fourth-largest US carrier announced Thursday that it has added 33 new countries to its Open World add-on plan, promising customers cheaper voice and data rates as well as unlimited free texting. The free feature, unveiled in August by the Overland, Kansas-based carrier, offers free calls to Canada, Mexico and a dozen Latin American countries, but travelers to the new areas on Sprint's plan will pay 20 cents per minute for calls and $30 per gigabyte for data.
"When our customers are vacationing in the Caribbean or traveling abroad, we know they want to be able to communicate with friends and family free from worry about surprising costs to text, make a call home or send a photo," Kevin Crull, Sprint's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
The international arena has become the new battlefront for US wireless carriers looking to attract and retain customers. Part of this fight includes addressing the high cost of using a mobile phone when traveling outside a US carrier's coverage area -- called roaming.
Historically, US wireless customers have faced hefty bills while using their service in other countries. By providing free or nearly free offerings for travelers, carriers are trying to appeal to customers who are tired of paying massive roaming charges.
The plan's expansion was announced just hours after T-Mobile, which edged Sprint in August to become the third-largest wireless carrier in the US,, promising that customers will no longer have to worry about roaming charges while traveling anywhere in Europe and South America. T-Mobile now offers unlimited data and texting at no extra cost and voice calls at 20 cents per minute to travelers in 145 countries.
Sprint's new destinations are France, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Fiji, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, St. Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Vanuatu.
Updated at 7:45 p.m. PT to correct wireless carriers' rankings.