December 1, 2014
Cellular company T-Mobile announced last week that it has added 14 new streaming services that will not count towards its customers’ data caps. Google Play Music and other specialty music services are now part of the Music Freedom program, but the deal raises questions about T-Mobile’s role in net neutrality. The FCC also told the company that it needs to be more transparent about throttled Internet speeds for customers who have exceeded their data allowance.
T-Mobile’s additions to the Music Freedom program have doubled the number of streaming services that do not eat up a user’s monthly data cap. The new services include Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, and smaller, genre-based services like JAZZRADIO and Fit Radio.
Beats Radio is still not an option. TechCrunch reports that it might be a hint that Apple could integrate Beats Radio into iTunes.
The company claims that the Music Freedom deal has encouraged many people to use their mobile devices to listen to music. The program launched this past summer, and the number of people streaming music daily jumped 300 percent.
Every day, the company streams some 66 million songs, transferring about 200 terabytes of data. About 25 percent of customers reportedly switched to T-Mobile in large part because of the Music Freedom offer.
Music Freedom has raised some questions about net neutrality. By only offering some music services for free, T-Mobile plays a gatekeeper role and possibly makes it more difficult for smaller streaming services to gain traction. The company maintains that it is not a “gatekeeper” because the services are selected by consumer voting and requests from services themselves. It wants the Music Freedom service to continue growing and adding more support for other services.
Meanwhile, the FCC and T-Mobile reached an agreement last week to be more transparent about slow Internet speeds for people who have exceeded their monthly data cap. T-Mobile can slow the speeds down to 128Kbps or 64Kbps, but customers could not find that out because the company did not throttle speed test applications.
As part of the agreement, T-Mobile will have to send texts to customers that will show accurate speed information. The website will also be revised to be more clear and direct links to speed tests will show up on handsets. The FCC investigated three other nationwide carriers about the issue, according to Ars Technica.