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AT&T expands international LTE roaming to 13 more countries

AT&T has added more countries to its 4G LTE international roaming footprint. The carrier now allows its customers to connect to LTE networks in 15 different countries.

An AT&T store in Manhattan.
CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Connecting to the fastest cellular networks in the world while traveling for business or for fun just got easier for AT&T wireless customers.

On Monday at the Mobile World Congress 2014 trade show in Barcelona, Spain, AT&T announced it has added 4G LTE data roaming in 13 more countries.

In December, AT&T became the first US wireless operator to allow its customers to roam onto international LTE networks. The other major wireless carriers only offer data roaming at slower 3G speeds for customers traveling abroad. The first country where AT&T's customers could roam on an international LTE network was Canada, quickly followed by the UK.

AT&T said Monday it expanded its international LTE roaming partnerships to include13 more countries: Spain, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Guam, Hong Kong and Antigua & Barbuda. The company plans to continue adding more countries to its list of LTE roaming network partners. It currently has agreements to allow for LTE roaming in more than 200 countries.

Even though most of the world has settled on LTE to provide faster 4G data speeds, wireless operators within each country use different wireless frequencies for this service. As a result, devices that work on an LTE network in one country and on one wireless carrier may not work on an operator in another country, which uses a different wireless frequency.

Because different devices support different frequency bands, some devices may be able to roam onto 4G LTE networks in some countries and not others.

For example, in Russia, AT&T has an LTE roaming agreement with MegaFon. The MegaFon LTE network uses Band 7 for its radio frequency. AT&T currently offers eight LTE devices that support Band 7, including the Apple iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina Display, Nokia Lumia 1520, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

In Australia, AT&T has an LTE roaming agreement with Telstra. And Telstra's LTE network operates on Bands 3 and 8. Compatible LTE devices with the Telstra LTE network are iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina Display, iPad 5, and Nokia Lumia 900.

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In France, AT&T has an LTE roaming agreement with Bouygues Telecom, which operates on LTE Bands 3 and 7. Compatible devices that can roam on this service include, the iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina Display, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 900, Nokia Lumia 1520, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

AT&T customers planning to travel abroad should visit the AT&T Travel Guide to verify if their device will work in the country or countries they are planning to visit, including if LTE is available.

In addition to its expanded LTE roaming, AT&T also announced Monday a new International Travel App, which provides an easy and convenient way for customers to monitor their wireless data usage while abroad. The app displays information about the customer's current international roaming packages. It also tracks their estimated data and messaging usage. And it sends alerts when traveling subscribers approach their allotment under their plan or if they don't have an international roaming plan. Customers can also set up their own custom alerts.

The app also includes answers to common questions about international roaming as well as one-click calling to AT&T's international customer care should customers need assistance during their travels, such as adding or modifying a package.

Customers can get more information about the app on the AT&T Web site.