T-Mobile giving AT&T customers a free year of DirecTV Now

But only if you buy two lines with its pricey T-Mobile One plan.

T-Mobile is trying to counter AT&T by offering AT&T customers a year of its rival's own DirecTV Now streaming service if they switch to magenta. The offer has some flaws: You'll just get a $35 monthly credit, which represents the lowest tier of DirecTV now, for one. You'll also need to pay $120 per month (minimum) for two lines on the new T-Mobile One "unlimited" plan, which doesn't include LTE tethering or high-definition video.

John Legere's company is also willing to match AT&T's zero-rating by saying that streaming DirecTV Now won't count against your data caps. By doing that, both companies are violating net neutrality rules in spirit, if not in law, by giving one service (DirecTV) an advantage over, say, Comcast (bad example, I know). Also, as mentioned, unless you pay an extra $25 per month, any video on T-Mobile is heavily compressed 480p, not HD.

The offer is also a way for T-Mobile to drum up free publicity -- something Legere excels at -- and as I'm writing this article, it's obviously working. However, it also offers me the opportunity to point out that in France, I have 1Gbps of internet, 161 channels and two mobile phone lines with 10GB of data each for 70 euros, or under $75 per month. So even with T-Mobile throwing in DirecTV for free, US consumers are paying a lot in comparison to the rest of the world for what has become an essential service.