T-Mobile’s Free Music Streaming Service Is Bad News For Net Neutrality

CEO John Legere's aggressive move could set the Web down a dangerous path

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere wants to give you another reason to join up: free music, and free data. (Image: File)

T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” rebranding has done wonders for user acquisition, and has made it the fastest growing mobile carrier in the U.S., adding a whopping 2.4 million new subscribers in Q1 2014.

Now, the fiery CEO John Legere wants to give you another reason to join up: free music, and free data.

On Wednesday, at T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier 6.0” event, the company announced Rhapsody unRadio, T-Mobile’s music streaming service, created in partnership with Rhapsody. The ad-free radio is taking on incumbents like Pandora and Rdio by offering unlimited skips, offline play, more than 20 million songs, and no ads.

Unradio will be free only if you’re a T-Mobile Simple Choice customer, however. If you’re a T-Mobile customer with a different plan, you can add unRadio for $4 per month. Not a T-Mobile customer? You can still get unRadio for $4.99 per month.

In addition, Legere announced Music Freedom, an alternative to its Rhapsody Unradio if you’d rather stick with your current music streaming provider. Through Music Freedom, the most popular music streaming services like Spotify, iTunes Radio, Pandora, and Slacker Radio, will be able to stream music without consuming data from your account. Other services are on the way, according to T-Mobile.

“Music should be free of all that,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. “Music should have no limits. So, beginning right now, you can stream all you want at T-Mobile from all of the top music services – data charges do not apply.”

On the face of it, free data for music streaming services sounds great. Who wants to pay extra data fees on top of a subscription fee for an app like Beats or Spotify?

But the move sets an incredibly dangerous precedent, one that undermines the traffic-neutral nature of the Web.

Legere dispelled the claim that it could lead down a road where T-Mobile essentially subsidized content from certain companies at the expense of others, claiming that adding competing music streaming services is a painless process. But the fact remains that T-Mobile is preferring one form of data over others, and it could have serious consequences.