Normally, when a company violates something such as Net Neutrality it generally is in the company’s best interest and they are looking for ways to make things more profitable and less valuable to consumers. A perfect example of that is with what Comcast is doing to Netflix (and others) in terms of requiring them to pay for prioritization in violation of Net Neutrality. This ultimately hurts Netflix and Netflix users that might be on Comcast, resulting in everyone but Comcast losing. Now, T-Mobile as part of their Uncarrier 5.0 and Uncarrier 6.0 initiatives made an announcement that they would be allowing users to stream music for free, meaning that if they don’t have an unlimited data plan, streaming music won’t count against their data plan.
Now, this move by T-Mobile is clearly very pro-consumer as it gives consumers the illusion that they’re saving money and data by not paying for music streaming, however there is one limitation to this new rule. First, it needs to be one of the following applications: iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Rhapsody, Spotify, Slacker, and Milk Music. They’ve also opened voting to allow users to pick two applications that they believe should be included as part of this free music initiative.
But there’s one problem with all of this, it effectively violates the principals of Net Neutrality and prioritizes one certain application’s traffic over another’s. Specifically, it rewards the already established an existing apps with the right to not penalize users for using the service while still treating the rest of the music apps on the market as second class music citizens. This means that an upstart application will naturally have a harder time competing with the Pandoras, the Spotifys and the Rhapsodys of this world. I mean, the fact that Google Play Music isn’t included as part of this list is already a bit peculiar, but even so, it means that if you’ve got an upstart music app that might be better than all of the rest of the established apps those companies already have a leg up on you in terms of not using a person’s monthly alotted data.
There is no denying that these music services use up a lot of data and if you use Spotify at very high quality for an entire month, you could easily rack up 1GB or 2GB of data usage, so for some this clearly comes as a godsend. However, I’m just not sure if T-Mobile realizes what they’re doing in terms of Net Neutrality or if this is just part of the company’s plan to happily and cheerfully lul us into a world where they pick the winners and losers through cajoling us into thinking they’re actually saving us money. If so, then this is probably one of the best evil plans I’ve ever seen from a carrier and AT&T and Verizon should be amazed and probably take some lessons. Otherwise, I think T-Mobile should seriously consider opening it up to ALL music apps and allow developers to apply for music exempt status, otherwise the company will be in direct violation of Net Neutrality. And as much as it hurts me to say this, especially considering all the awesome things T-Mobile has done lately, they’re really fucking with Net Neutrality and how the internet and mobile apps should work.