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On T-Mobile, you can now stream music without hurting your data plan

Brad Molen
June 18, 2014
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Streaming music on your phone would be fantastic -- if it weren't for all those pesky data caps. T-Mobile's latest UnCarrier move addresses this particular pain point: Starting today, you'll be able to listen to all of your favorite jams on popular streaming music services without it counting against your data plan. The catch? It's limited to a few of the most popular offerings, such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, iHeartRadio, Slacker, Rhapsody and Samsung's Milk Music. T-Mobile exec Andrew Sherrard explained that the aforementioned services encompass 85 percent of what users listen to, so the list covers the vast majority of the carrier's consumers. That said, Sherrard said that the company plans to reach out for feedback via a social media campaign, so make your voice heard if you're interested in getting services like Rdio or Google Play Music added to the list. If your favorite program is included, feel free to start filling up those playlists to your heart's content.

The offering sounds great, and it may be a well-intentioned feature meant to shake up the industry, but not all of it is made of puppies and happy unicorns. Net neutrality advocates aren't going to love this announcement, as it gives preferential treatment to different types of data. The fact that customers can download as much data as they want -- as long as it's one of a pre-selected group of streaming music services -- flies in the face of treating all data equally. It's a small move, indeed, but if it becomes popular with consumers, it may give those who campaign against net neutrality more leverage to add to the fight with other providers.

This move is part of what T-Mobile is referring to as UnCarrier 6.0. (Test Drive, announced earlier, was part of UnCarrier 5.0. Confused yet?) But that isn't everything the company announced tonight: A feature called UnRadio is bundled in as well. The feature is essentially a T-Mobile-branded radio station which is the result of a partnership with Rhapsody. If you're on the Simple Choice rate plan, you'll get access to Rhapsody's entire music library for free. It's powered by the streaming service's full catalogue, although it doesn't work on-demand. You won't have to worry about advertisements or limits on how many skips you get, and UnRadio will also offer a large number of terrestrial radio stations. And just as with T-Mobile's other music-related announcement, data plan will remain unaffected. If you're not on the Simple Choice plan, you can fork out $4 a month to enjoy the service.

(Made correction to reflect that Rhapsody's catalogue doesn't come on-demand.)

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