updated 01:10 am EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
Eight streaming services can now be accessed for free, Rhapsody unRadio unveiled
In a twist to the Uncarrier presentation in Seattle, T-Mobile announced that is offering free music streaming to its customers. "All the top streaming services," such as iTunes Radio and Spotify, can be streamed by smartphone customers without affecting their data usage. On top the streaming perk, T-Mobile also revealed its own radio service that it developed in a partnership with Rhapsody. Rhapsody unRadio will be available to the public June 23.
CEO John Legere spoke about how he was always being asked if T-Mobile would be doing another Uncarrier event. In a move to pull one over on the audience, he answered as he walked to a DJ booth.
"Yes," he said. "And it's right now."
The show shifted to the Uncarrier 6.0 announcement, where Legere said T-Mobile would be tackling a rising problem with streaming and data use. As streaming takes up a large percentage of mobile data -- 67 percent according to the presentation -- T-Mobile wanted alleviate worries about data caps and overage charges for customers. The company hit upon the idea of "music freedom" as a feature in its own plans.
Seven of the most popular applications are available now in the free program, including Pandora, iTunes Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Milk Music and Slacker. The eighth streaming service, Beatport, will be added at a later date. Only iTunes Radio and iHeartRadio offer unlimited listening without an attendant subscription, but for both those services and users who subscribe to one of the others, streaming the music will not result in bandwidth restrictions, overage charges or any other penalty, said the carrier.
Not to leave any services left out, T-Mobile offers a chance to add additional streaming to the program. Customers can visit a website to suggest and vote on new services to be added to the supported list. When questioned if Google Play Music may be added in the future, Legere responded that if there is something people want, the company will add it.
The technical part of the free streaming is related to white listing the web and IP address for streaming, according to answers from the panel. It's a technical inclusion to get the associated service added in to exempt customers from charges. Legere added that the company would be all for an automated process.
When asked if it would be possible to add services through the T-Mobile customer panel, Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said that it is feasible. He added that the company is planning to use the voting as the start of the expansion. Voting results may be seen in as little as three weeks.
If a customer hits their data cap by using other services (such as streaming video), T-Mobile says that music streaming will continue unaffected, though other services would still be subject to existing data policies and charges.
Additionally, T-Mobile announced that it is releasing its own music streaming service, called unRadio. Pairing up with Rhapsody, the service features the ability to listen to any of 20 million songs, and utilize unlimited skips. The service contains no ads, and can replay favorites at any time. When the service launches next week, it will be free to even to existing unlimited-data customers.
Other T-Mobile plans, or those on other carriers, will have to pay a price to use unRadio. Existing T-Mobile customers get a discounted rate of $4 per month. Customers using other carriers can still tune in to unRadio at the full rate of $5 a month.
Following the announcement, the presenters were asked how the company would tackle streaming video, since it uses more data. Legere agreed that video uses more data, but said that the carrier is taking things one step at a time. By offering free music, T-Mobile is attempting to get people to think differently about providers.
The intention, according to Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert, is to create an image of service to the customer that is easy to understand. T-Mobile is offering the free music streaming, he said, because its network can handle it. Sievert adds that other carriers aren't because their networks can't or "they just won't."
A slide at the end of the presentation announced that another Uncarrier event would happen this year. T-Mobile's Twitter account confirmed Uncarrier 7.0 would be late this summer.