Since When Does T-Mobile Offer International Tethering?!

Filed Under: Travel Technology

I’ve become a huge T-Mobile fanboy since making the switch from AT&T several weeks ago. Between T-Mobile’s unlimited international data, hour of free Gogo wifi per flight, and general awesome pro-customer attitude, I couldn’t be happier. I’m paying less than half of what I was paying before with AT&T, where I felt like I got nothing (no tethering, no international data, etc.).

T-Mobile’s international data isn’t perfect, in the sense that the speeds are technically only 2G (though in some regions they’re faster than that), and you can’t tether. But when I’m getting unlimited international data at no extra cost, I’m more than happy with that offering. After all, I’m not trying to watch YouTube videos while roaming foreign streets, but rather just appreciate being able to check my email and look up directions, where 2G does the trick.

This summer T-Mobile is making travel to Europe even more pleasant, as they’re giving customers unlimited 4G LTE data while in Europe. I’m in Europe right now, and have been loving the 4G LTE speeds.

However, I’ve been noticing something rather strange on this trip. While I can always tether while in the US, I don’t believe I’m supposed to be able to tether outside the US, and for that matter on a past trip didn’t have the option. However, on this trip I’ve been given the option of tethering. I figured I’d try it out, and sure enough it works, and speeds have been great.


So am I missing something — did T-Mobile add international tethering, is it just being offered (perhaps inadvertently) as part of the 4G LTE summer promotion for Europe, or am I about to get a thousand dollar bill when my statement closes?

  1. Hi Ben – You wont get a large bill, that’s for sure. They won’t charge for it. But my experience has been that the tethering works for only a few hours and then tmobile blocks it. As if it takes a bit of time until theres a full handshake between your domestic plan and that carrier’s abilities.

  2. International tethering did not work for me with my T-Mobile data in Europe a year ago, but then I was pleasantly shocked when it did work while I was sitting at a beach bar in Puerto Vallarta two months ago. Of course, that’s Mexico, and they do have enhanced North America coverage … Tethering didn’t work when I was in South America last month (Argentina, Brazil).

  3. I’ve confirmed on chat througj the app with several agents that you can but the speeds may be slow, but with the 4G it is better.

  4. Your screenshot shows your connection as 3G…can you clarify if tethering downgrades you to 3G rather than LTE when in Europe?

  5. Outside of the 4G LTE promotion in Europe, T-Mobile allows international tethering if you purchase a Data Pass for high speed data internationally. The data pass allows tethering for the entire period of the data pass (e.g. 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks) even if you run out of the high speed data allotment before the time period expires. My guess is that they’re using the Data Pass logic for the Europe promotion.

  6. It’s not a feature, but in some countries (japan for example) you can use tethering. No additional bill what so ever. I assume it’s because T-mo has limited ability to restrict tethering on some partner providers.

  7. I used it in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand recently without issues. Never thought it was blocked until this post.

  8. I think you only get tethering if you pay for a full speed add on. However it sounds like if the speed restrictions are lifted like in Mexico and Canada it will work. Additionally since European speed restrictions have been lifted temporarily it is working as if you had paid for the full speed add on.

    I usually pay to remove the speed cap and I think it’s fairly reasonable. I recommend you turn off data for all your apps then go one by one as you need them and turn data on back on. This will conserve your usage.

    500MB 1 Month $50
    200MB 1 Week $25
    100MB 1 Day $15

  9. I’m in Europe myself right now and got the same 4G LTE message went I switched on my phone this morning. Have been using my iPhone as a hotspot for my iPad today, for email purposes only, haven’t even thought about it….. It works, that’s all I know.

  10. I used free tethering over a year ago (April 2015) in China and Hkg, didn’t buy any extra package and wasn’t charged anything extra for it

  11. Ive gotten tethering in most countries even at edge speeds, it was almost worthless sometimes to me but It was very good for sending emails out and letting it stay connected my laptop even tried to do an auto backup but that failed to finish. But for the most part ive been able to tether everywhere with tmobile I dont think it has to do with locking of the phone, when I was on verzion and att tethering was always additional with tmobile I have it included with my plan (its limited to 10gb a month in the us), than it goes down to 3g speeds vs lte. (Im not sure how they monitor this) but I have never hit my limit nor noticed the slow down. Tmobile isnt flawless though some places its slow as can be for instance at sporting events or concerts but its half the price I was paying for verizon with a bigger feature set. So to me its win win.

  12. @Andrew – it’s when you basically turn your cell phone data into a wifi hotspot. I’m sure there’s better technical ways to explain it, but that’s the gist.

  13. currently tethering from Paris with Mobile. Your site loaded quickly! Prefer that over hotel networks….

    BTW: Ben, you’re awesome. Fourth year reader.

  14. I think its because your phone is unlocked. When you had AT&T unlock your phone for you so you could switch to T-mobile during that process it unlocked the ability to tether. I’ve always bought fully unlocked phones for this reason. So they don’t try to charge me for tethering on AT&T.
    I have a ONE PLUS ONE phone. Unlocked. No problems.

    My wife has a Samsung galaxy 5. Locked with AT&T. If she wants to tether. AT&T requires her to pay $30 first before allowing her phone to tether.

  15. @Jon W.

    Close- but tethering doesn’t necessarily need to be over wifi. Indeed, the term “tethering” existed before phones had the ability to become a hotspot- the “tether” was literally the USB cable connecting the phone to a laptop so the laptop could use the phone’s data connection.

    Ten years ago I had a dumbphone that could be modified to enable tethering- and a cell phone plan that billed data as minutes! (20 mins of internet access = 20 minute phone call). Those were the days…

  16. I’ve used tethering (2G speeds) with T-Mobile in several countries in South America and Europe. I guess there have been times where it didn’t work, but I always chalked it up to just having a poor signal. I use it infrequently, though, so maybe I just haven’t noticed the patterns.

    Is the free 4G in Europe thing brand new? I was in the UK two weeks ago and definitely was not getting 4G. Headed back to Europe next week and am excited to try it out!

  17. I have been a T-mobile customer for about 2 years (formerly with ATT), and love it. I have always understood international tethering was not allowed, so I have never tried (how dumb of me).

    Here is some fine print from the T-mobile site “…… Coverage not available in some areas; we are not responsible for the performance of our roaming partners’ networks. Standard speeds approx. 128 Kbps. No tethering.”

    Glad to hear that you and others have been able to tether. I’ll certainly try later this month when I am in Europe, enjoying free data at 4G speed. BTW these tickets from LAX to CPH were booked on American in J using AA miles after reading Lucky’s post in Feb about the massive availability of American business class seats. Thanks Lucky, and Thanks T-mobile

  18. My experiences seem to confirm what others have said:
    Last summer I purchased a data pack and was able to tether in Europe (several nations).
    Last month I did not purchase a data pack and was not able to tether in Europe (Iceland).

  19. I’m heading to Mexico in a few weeks. Is the consensus that for the thing to work internationally it must be on an unlocked phone? I have a tmobile LG V10, and it’s not unlocked.

  20. How is this service in the UK now?

    I used it in Summer 2015 and speeds were slow and tethering was not allowed.

    Do we get true LTE in UK now with full tethering capabilities?

  21. Ben- update… the new T-MOBILE ONE PLUS WITH INTERNATIONAL (the highest tier now offers international tethering). it didn’t before normally under old T-mobile plans unless it was an LTE roaming special like the European one in late 2016 that T-mobile ran (e.g. i could tether in Austria, but not France previously). now tethering internationally is included, albeit at slower speeds… though the new T-MOBILE ONE PLUS allows 2x old speed…. up to 256 kbp/s, which is better than the old 128 kbp/s.

  22. I am on the Simple Choice plan which I believe is the best value plan, can you add the plus uprade / bolt on to that?

  23. Hi- I’m an American with a TMo Simple Choice Plan (Postpaid), who uses an Android phone, attending a University in London. I started this past Fall and was happy with the data speed of my plan & was able to tether, all likely due to those specials TMo had in in place for international travel towards the end of 2016. However since the start of this year I’ve noticed a HUGE decrease in speed & the inability to tether and am not pleased with my phone service. How interesting that all started right when T-Mobile is pushing/promoting their One/OnePlus/OnePlusInternational plans! My dilemma now is: Do I keep my now grandfathered-in Simple Choice Plan or change to one of the new plans?

    I only have this semester remaining and will be returning to the States this June. OnePlusInternational sounds like the obvious choice, but I don’t need to call from the States to International locations….I need it the other way around! The only enticement for OnePlusInternational is the unlimited LTE tethering. I could really use it for my laptop! I currently pay $60 a month ($50 +$10 for 3G of data) plus taxes & fees. If I got OnePlusInternational that’d be $95 a month, with possible $10 Kickback credit if I don’t use over 2G of data…so $85 a month, taxes included. Right now my bill averages $115 a month because I make 20c a min phone calls to the states! :/ I have the free WiFi calling option on my line, but WiFi calling quality isn’t great so I usually end up making a reg phone call and getting charged 20c a minute for it. Recently though I’ve discovered how to use GoogleHangouts to make free DATA calls!! That works out better than WiFi calls and I don’t have to go searching for WiFi spots when away from campus (I don’t have WiFi at my flat). Phone calls using my current data speed (2Got 3G in London?) can sometimes be of poor quality, so I’m wondering if the LTE speeds on the OnePlusInternational would make those calls even better!

    So should I keep or change/upgrade? I hesitate because I know once I switch to a One Plan I’d never be able to get my Simple Choice Plan back. Also I seem to have lots of data in my Data Stash. I guess because I’ve technically not been using the T-Mobile network and instead have been using a partner/affiliate network while in the UK, so the data is stacking up back home. I have 20G of data stashed! I’d probably lose it if I change plans. But if I keep my Simple Choice I’d have all that stashed data to draw upon once I return home. Help!

  24. P.S. I looked into getting WiFi at my flat but they all cost between £20 – £30 a month ($25 – $35) and/or require a yearly contract, and I won’t be here long enough for a contract. So the $25 a month extra for LTE tethering sounds pretty good to me! Once I return home I could always downgrade from Tmobile’s OnePlusInternational to a regular TMobileOne (which could drop to $60 a month with Taxes Included & Kickback, less than my Simple Choice with Data Stash).

  25. Interesting. I had no issue tethering my phone to my tablet in Australia for a month and NZ for a month last year, plus lots of Europe and Asia.

    But they don’t (and didn’t ever) mention tethering. So perhaps they’ll disallow it in 2017. And nobody at t-mobile can answer the question with any degree of accuracy.

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