AT&T's first international LTE roaming deal is very cool

The carrier's data roaming plans will include LTE service, but only in Canada for now

AT&T subscribers can now get LTE service outside the U.S., but fantasies of watching HD video on a tropical beach will have to wait: They can only roam in Canada.

On Monday, AT&T announced a roaming agreement with Rogers Communications, which offers LTE service in 120 Canadian cities, stretching from Sydney, Nova Scotia (currently -4 degrees Celsius or 25 Fahrenheit) to Victoria, British Columbia (1 degree Celsius). AT&T said the deal is its first LTE roaming pact with a foreign carrier and the first for any U.S. carrier.

Rogers' LTE service comes with any of three AT&T Data Global Add-On packages, which include discounted rates in Canada and more than 150 other countries. The plans cost $30 per month for 120MB, $60 per month for 300MB or $120 per month for 800MB.

LTE roaming has been slow to get off the ground as mobile operators around the world roll out the 4G technology on a wide range of different spectrum bands. AT&T isn't the first carrier in the world to offer international LTE roaming. In February, TeliaSonera introduced LTE roaming for its Danish subscribers visiting Sweden. But 4G is still far from achieving the reach of 3G international roaming, though the growing number of bands supported on devices such as the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S4 is helping to pave the way.

Rogers and AT&T both use frequencies in the 2100MHz band for LTE. AT&T says its subscribers will be able to roam on the Rogers network with any LTE device now in use on its network. Rogers advertises average LTE downstream speeds ranging from 12Mbps to 40Mbps and says its LTE network reaches 70 percent of Canada's population. That includes residents of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where a steady -23 Celsius is forecast for Tuesday.

AT&T expects to launch international LTE roaming in more countries in the coming months but would not give any more details. Verizon Wireless, AT&T's larger rival, has said it plans to offer international LTE roaming in the beginning of 2014.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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