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Mobile

Sprint unveils free calls, texts to Canada and Mexico

The wireless carrier's Open World plan will also charge five cents per minute for calls to Latin America, the Dominican Republic and over 180 countries around the world.

Sprint is opening the world to its customers to make it cheaper to make calls and access data. Sprint

Sprint is the latest US carrier to make it easier (and cheaper) for customers to communicate with friends and family around the world.

Sprint on Monday unveiled its Open World add-on plan, which offers free calling and texting from the US to Canada and Mexico. It also gives Sprint customers free calling and texting while traveling in Canada, Mexico and more than a dozen Latin American countries, Sprint said, and includes 1GB of free data usage in some of those countries. Also part of the Open World plan, calls to the Dominican Republic and over 180 countries around the world will start at 5 cents a minute.

"Sprint is making it easier for our customers to connect without roaming charges or excessive fees for calls or texts," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement on Monday.

Sprint's offer is part of a broader push across the wireless industry to invest in Mexico. AT&T, the second-largest wireless carrier in the US, in January acquired Mexican carriers Iusacell for $2.5 billion and Nextel Mexico for $1.875 billion. AT&T has said it hopes to build a single, seamless network that runs between the US and Mexico, causing no disruption in service.

T-Mobile and its subsidiary MetroPCS last month unveiled an add-on plan that offers unlimited calls and texts to people in Mexico. And while in Mexico, those customers have unlimited calling to the US and inside Mexico, as well as unlimited texting and data usage.

Mexico is viewed as a growing market for the wireless industry. With more people coming online in the country, carriers are looking for ways to expand their services and win customers. Part of this strategy includes addressing the high cost of using a mobile phone when traveling outside of a US carrier's coverage area -- called roaming. Historically, users have spent considerable sums of money to use cellular service in other countries, including Mexico and Canada. By providing free or nearly free offerings when traveling, carriers are trying to appeal to customers who are tired of paying massive roaming charges.

Still, carriers are not going to entirely eliminate costs. Sprint's Open World, for instance, will charge customers 20 cents a minute for calls to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with data costing $30 per GB in select countries. The plan offers 1GB of free data while traveling in Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay, but will charge $30 for every additional gigabyte used.

Sprint's Open World is available now. The carrier said Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are "coming soon" to Sprint Open World.