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The internet is still in trouble, and now we know how it’s going to get worse.T-Mobile has just announced "Binge On," a deal that gives customers unlimited access to Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN, Showtime, and video from most other huge media brands (but not You Tube! It’s just like T-Mobile’s "Music Freedom" promotion, which gives customers unlimited high-speed data, as long as they’re listening to music from Spotify, Google Play Music, or one of T-Mobile’s other partners.
That future looks more and more likely as media companies, technology companies, and telecommunications companies become more tightly integrated in complicated layers of cartel-style ownership — the same way the TV business has operated for decades. It gives T-Mobile too much power in deciding winners and losers on the internet, and it gives other ISPs incentive to adopt similar measures to stay competitive.
Verizon is so desperate to impart the logic of limitation that it now offers data plans in "small, medium, large, extra large, and extra-extra large" sizes.
Each metaphor is more inane and unnecessary than the last, but it doesn’t really matter, because only a few companies really own the internet, and they succeed most when they cooperate without acting like they’re cooperating.
"Dumb and dumber are really gonna lose their shit over this one," Legere said today, talking about AT&T and Verizon.
"The other guys can’t keep up." In this case, we really hope the other guys don’t keep up.
But since T-Mobile now gives me all that data for "free," it’s a huge competitive advantage against T-Mobile’s rivals. Remember when Netflix accused Comcast and other ISPs of holding their customers hostage for payment?
Netflix paid up, and depending on who you ask, it looks like the ISPs won big time. Despite arguments that Netflix was an underdog, it’s doing huge business, and it’s going to be fine. Have you noticed that all these zero-rating programs privilege video and sound? The network isn't open if this kind of discrimination exists.But the harm is obvious — it transfers power from consumers and small companies to gatekeepers.Next time you see a gold-plated Monster cable at Best Buy, remember that we’re living in a new Gilded Age whose stark inequalities are often masked by corporate spin and demagoguery.(T-Mobile announced today it had "amped" that minimum plan to 2GB.) As soon as you reach that cap, you’re kicked down to 2G speeds which are basically unusable for most things worth doing on the internet.When I was on T-Mobile’s 1GB plan before it announced Music Freedom, I nearly used my entire data allowance listening to Google Play Music on a one-way bus ride from New York to DC.It sounds like a sweet deal, and many customers will benefit! When John Herrman writes that the next internet is TV — and you should believe him — this is part of how we get there.