Boost Mobile, a subsidiary of Sprint, has just announced an unlimited data promotion that will let its customers stream music from a small list of partners: Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, 8tracks, and Samsung Milk Music. It's the same free music idea its corporate sibling Virgin Mobile introduced in October, and like the one competitor T-Mobile introduced last year with great "uncarrier" fanfare. They're all bad for net neutrality.
Just like T-Mobile did with music, and then video, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have decided arbitrarily that music is a more important form of speech than everything else that travels over its network. That's clearly discriminatory behavior, even if consumers benefit from it in the short term. It appears companies are willing to follow T-Mobile's example, which sets a worrying trend considering FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has praised similar schemes as being "highly innovative and highly competitive."
But non-discrimination, the principle that your choice as a consumer should be more important than an internet service provider's choices, is really the core idea of net neutrality. And if wireless internet service providers can easily violate this principle by spinning it as a kickback, what was the point of the FCC's net neutrality fight to begin with?