Review: Verizon Wireless global services

Traveling represents many opportunities: You can venture outside your comfort zone, see the sights, explore history, and also go outside of your cell phone coverage zone.  If you use Verizon as your wireless provider, you might think your options are limited for global roaming, but the truth is, they are not.

Sure, not all of Verizon’s devices work globally, but they do have a plethora of devices that will work on GSM frequencies. On a recent trip to Italy, Verizon gave Neowin a global device so we could test out their services.

Up for the globetrotting challenge was the Droid Pro. This device has a SIM slot tucked away behind the battery door that gives you coverage outside of the US. It should be noted that you can have your device SIM unlocked, meaning that if you want to replace the Verizon provided SIM card with a local SIM, that option is available to you. This is the most cost effective way use a phone in Europe but you do give up one key aspect: Your own phone number.

There are a a few things you need to setup before traveling abroad. First, get a global data and calling plan added to your account to help reduce the budget busting data prices while roaming. Then a couple of simple things need to be completed: turn on global roaming on the device and allow data to be used while roaming.

After that, you are set. Upon arriving in Italy, it took the device about three minutes to locate a suitable network and the service worked as one would expect. Calls were made just as if you were stateside and data worked as one would expect. Data I might add is still prohibitively expensive if this is your personal account even with a global data package from Verizon. But if it’s for big business, your emails will arrive and all will appear as if you were on the native network back at home.

Verizon will charge $100 for 70 MB of data while in Europe. This sounds high but if you are roaming without this plan the charge for data usage climbs up to $20 per MB. By comparison, the $100 for 70MB is a bargain.

The only slight hiccup experienced while using the device was when making a call. Occasionally, you wouldn’t hear the phone ring on the other end. You would dial, it would be quiet and no noise at all, and then suddenly the recipient would answer and start talking. It was one of those “is this thing working?” type moments but the calls would always go through even if you didn’t hear the other end ringing. The calls were clear, and the service worked every time.

The service works, that’s all that there is to it and the process is easy to setup and easy to use. There really isn’t much else to say other than the global services from Verizon Wireless work as you would expect. Sure, roaming is still and always will be expensive, especially with data usage, but if you need your cell phone to work around the world, Verizon’s global devices can fill that need.

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The reason it works so well is because VZW is 45% owned (financially) by Vodafone in London.

The ownership structure of VZW:
55% Verizon Communications in New York
45% Vodafone in London

BTW they recently integrated their global GRX/IPX/SS7 networks allowing roaming to all the continents of the world except for certain countries where there is a US embargo...

One thing that was not mentioned that people should know is that you can change this at any time too. So, for example, when I traveled abroad, I got international data added to my plan before leaving, then a week later when I returned, I took it off. I did not get international calling as I did not need it. The week of data only cost me like $15...

Verizon used to (changed in December or something) have an unlimited data plan called the Global E-Mail plan for $70 a month ($2 a day!!!), and then they got rid of it for their current offering. Sad day for global travelers on Big Red.

Just because the alternative to roaming is way less (thank the shoot me in the face rate of 20 dollars per MB) does not change the fact that their plans are super expensive. 100 (USD I hope) for 70MB... indeed...

I'm Canadian and I have a Verizon phone with unlimited data in Canada and the USA and it works just fine. Just saying.

I've really never understood why Verizon and Americans make a big deal about roaming. In Europe we just take our phone and go, it works, we go home, job done. Can even swap out my SIM for a local one as standard…

AT&T and T-mobile use the same technology as EU (GSM/UMTS/HSPA+) provided it has the 2100MHz and quad-band.

VZW and Sprint uses a different network technology that recently has been integrated into ONE (LTE/CDMA) and require global phones (most smart-phones, a little more expensive).