UPDATE 1-Wind Mobile launches low-cost unlimited U.S. roaming plan

Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:01pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha

TORONTO Jan 30 (Reuters) - Wind Mobile, one of the smallest players in Canada's wireless market, said on Thursday it was offering a new low-cost unlimited U.S. roaming plan, a traditionally lucrative niche for its much larger competitors.

Wind, backed by Europe's Vimpelcom Ltd, said it would offer customers unlimited data, talk and text while traveling in the United States for C$15 ($13.42) a month.

The offer is a direct challenge to Canada's three largest mobile operators - Rogers Communications Inc, BCE Inc's Bell, and Telus Corp - who charge much more to keep their customers connected while south of the border.

"While wireless prices in the Canadian marketplace remain very high, we at Wind Mobile continue to challenge expectations and offer our customers real value," Wind's chief operating officer, Pietro Cordova, said in a statement.

Wind's gambit could force its larger rivals to re-think their U.S. pricing, which would in turn eat into their profit margins.

It will "probably succeed in dropping roaming rates somewhat, however I'm pretty dubious about this driving subscriber growth," said Ryan Bushell, a portfolio manager at Leon Frazer, which holds positions in the three big telecoms.

Rogers, Telus and Bell did not immediately comment on whether the move would prompt them to alter their U.S. plans. The three do not currently offer unlimited data, talk and text U.S. roaming plans.   Continued...