Scumbag T-Mobile: The 'Uncarrier" might have just provided all the ammunition needed to permanently destroy Net Neutrality.
Note: This was originally posted to /r/Android and the title was intended as a response to this post
By now, most of you have seen the news. T-Mobile will no longer count certain streaming music apps towards the data caps for their post-paid plans. On the surface this is a great thing, right? I mean, who doesn't hate data caps?
In the short-term, you're right. Tomorrow when they wake up,This will be a nice value-added bonus to most of T-Mobile's customers. But please don't be mistaken, this is a very, very bad thing for Net Neutrality.
Chris Zeigler has already written an excellent article detailing some of the more obvious reasons why this is bad, so I'll try not to go over them again. What I'd like to do is address some of the common sentiments I've seen in favor of this tonight, and explain how this could have much greater implication than even most people who are against it see.
The most common thing I've seen tonight are people who simply don't know what Net Neutrality really is, and don't think this is a violation at all. statements like "this isn't creating a fast lane so it's not a violation" or "they aren't making the services pay them, they are absorbing the costs themselves, so it's OK". This shows a fundamental misunderstanding about what Net Neutrality actually is.
Basically, bits are bits. Data is Data. Anything that treats some bits differently than others is a violation of net neutrality. Providing free bandwidth for certain services and not for other competing services is the definition of priority access. **If we want Net Neutrality at all, we must be consistent**. We cannot claim that this is okay when we're getting something out of it, then turn around and complain when we're talking about fast lanes or tiered access plans. It doesn't work that way.
The other comment I've seen numerous times tonight pertains to what Legere said in the press event. He was very reassuring, stating that they would *love* to add all the popular services in the future, and that people only need to go vote on who they should add first. The website for the offer states...
Any lawful and licensed streaming music service can work with us for inclusion in this offer
Surely this should dissuade any remaining fears, right? Wrong.
Let's assume that he's telling the truth, and that in the near future, all of the popular streaming apps and services are included. That still leaves new services with a competitive disadvantage imposed on them by an ISP. Who is going to try out that interesting new streaming app, when you know that using it for a day is going to use up half your data plan, and you could just stick with Spotify and not have to worry about it? This offer makes it almost impossible for new services to compete in this market on T-Mobile's network.
Now we come to the biggest issue, and that's the possible impact this could have on the Net Neutrality debate at large. This could turn out to be a Trojan Horse in the fight against Net Neutrality. Companies can point to this and say "see, without this unnecessary regulation, we wouldn't be able to do great stuff like this." We all know the dangerous future of an internet without true Net Neutrality (Fast Lanes, Slow Lanes, Tiered Access Plans, etc.) but this is how it happens. This is the cheese on the trap.
As someone put it to me moments ago, many a vitriolic net neutrality proponent will forget all about it as soon as you put something shiny in their faces and tell them it's free. I'm afraid this could be that shiny object.