MetroPCS, T-Mobile's flagship prepaid brand, on Wednesday introduced Mexico Unlimited, which allows customers to receive calling to Mexico and coverage throughout the country at no extra cost until 2016 if they sign up by Aug. 31.
"More than just a 'roaming plan,' Mexico Unlimited means MetroPCS customers can use their phones in Mexico just like they do at home and call Mexico all they want," the company said.
After this year, customers will pay $5 per month per line for the perk.
T-Mobile has been aggressively looking for ways to expand its business. Carriers are contending with the fact that nearly everyone has a wireless plan, making growth opportunities slim. Differentiated and niche offerings are helping companies stand apart from rivals.
T-Mobile has homed in on neighboring countries, noting that last year 35% of international calls and 55% of international travel from the U.S. were to Mexico and Canada alone.
The Bellevue, Wash., company hopes that by offering a comprehensive plan that extends coverage across country borders, customers will switch from rival carriers. In Los Angeles especially, with its proximity to Mexico and large number of Mexican Americans, T-Mobile could stand to gain significantly.
"Boost and Cricket offer you exactly zero data coverage in Mexico, so the moment you cross the Mexican border, your phone becomes a brick as far as data's concerned," said John Legere, chief executive of T-Mobile. "MetroPCS is busting down the border to deliver a great experience for data and calling to Mexico that the other prepaid guys can't touch."
Rival carriers, meanwhile, have stressed that customers should read T-Mobile's fine print carefully.
"Every day you are not in Mexico and back in the U.S., MetroPCS has their customers riding in the back seat on the T-Mobile network. Their network gives priority to T-Mobile customers in times of congestion," said Dow Draper, president of wholesale and prepaid services at Sprint, which owns Boost. "Boost treats all of our customers the same -- everyone is a priority. Why would anyone want to settle for second?"
Cricket did not respond to a request for comment.
MetroPCS customers with a $40 or higher base rate plan can add Mexico Unlimited at MetroPCS stores or online.
While in the U.S., customers will receive unlimited mobile-to-mobile and landline calls to Mexico and unlimited texting to Mexico.
While in Mexico, customers will receive unlimited mobile-to-mobile and landline calls to "virtually anywhere in the U.S. and Mexico," unlimited texting to the U.S. and unlimited data.