T-Mobile may let you stream video without gobbling up your data

The carrier reportedly plans to let users stream certain services like Netflix to their smartphones, free from any limits on data. If true, the move could be an expensive one for the company.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

T-Mobile may be about to make its boldest move yet as part of its "Uncarrier" campaign.


T-Mobile has set the date for its Uncarrier 10 event, which will be in Los Angeles.


The Bellevue, Washington, wireless operator is expected to let subscribers use unlimited data when streaming select video services, such as Netflix and HBO, according to leaker Evan Blass in a tweet sent Thursday.

T-Mobile said earlier this week that its next Uncarrier press event will be November 10 in Los Angeles. The tagline for Uncarrier 10 is "We never hit pause." Beyond that, the company has not said much about what it will focus on. Blass, a freelance tech writer, has a decent history of predicting new products, with a particular focus on mobile devices.

"There are always rumors ahead of our Uncarrier events and it's part of the fun -- we love it!" Janice Kapner, senior vice president of corporate communications, said in an email.

Uncarrier 10 is T-Mobile's latest attempt to lure customers away from rivals as the company looks to take on the two biggest operators in the US, AT&T and Verizon. For more than two years the company has rolled out a series of consumer-friendly offers, from eliminating contracts to offering free international data, under the Uncarrier banner. The strategy has paid off, with the company adding more subscribers than its rivals over the past several quarters.

This latest annoyance it may eradicate for consumers could be the most costly for the carrier. Video is one of the most bandwidth-intensive applications on the Internet. Giving customers unlimited access to streaming content could drive up costs for the carrier, especially as more customers flock to its network, filling up its high-speed pipes with traffic. The trend flies in the face of competitors' practices. Its rivals have adopted plans with caps to discourage customers from using data-hungry apps like video streaming on an unlimited basis.

The offer, if this is really what T-Mobile plans to announce, is similar to T-Mobile's Music Freedom program, letting customers stream unlimited music from nearly three dozen services, such as Rhapsody, Spotify and Pandora. The data used to stream those services is not counted against the customer's monthly limits.

"Stream unlimited music on your phone or tablet without burning your 4G LTE data," the T-Mobile website reads. "No overages, no data caps, just all the music you want from your favorite music services."

Details about how the unlimited streaming video service would work are not known. T-Mobile already offers customers an unlimited-data service plan that costs $80 a month. Even though the service is sold as "unlimited," the fine print indicates the company will slow down service during times of congestion on the network if customers have used 23 gigabytes or more of data in a month, which T-Mobile considers excessive.