Data is data…except when it’s not. T-Mobile makes things a little confusing by giving you a certain amount of data, then offering unlimited music and video streaming that doesn’t count against the allowance–but only for certain services.

Most T-Mobile Plans Include These Features

Do you use T-Mobile as your cellular provider? Then you probably have these features, known as Music Freedom and Binge On. Some older plans may not have them, though, so be sure to check which T-Mobile plan you have and what features are included before counting on this.

To find out, head to T-Mobile’s account website, sign in with your account, and click “View plan details” beneath your phone line and then click “More T-Mobile benefits” to see what’s listed.

How It Works

Music Freedom and Binge On take certain types of data–music and video streaming from specific services–and exclude it from the data you have to pay for. So, if you have a 1GB monthly data limit, you can watch 50GB of Netflix or stream 50GB of music, but that won’t count towards your limit at all. Browse 1GB of web pages and you’ll hit that limit, however.

Be aware that this will throw off the data usage meters built into the iPhone and Android phones. They’ll show you how much data your phone is actually using, but T-Mobile won’t count it all. You should use the meter on T-Mobile’s website to keep track of how much data T-Mobile is counting against your data limit.

RELATED: How to Monitor (and Reduce) Your Data Usage on the iPhone

Music Freedom for Tunes

The “Music Freedom” feature works by allowing you to stream an unlimited amount of music from certain services without it counting against your data allowance.

To do this, you just have to use the service’s app on your Android phone or iPhone. You can’t use tethering to stream on another device, like your computer.

Just launch one of the supported apps and start streaming music–everything will work normally and T-Mobile just won’t count it against your data usage. T-Mobile does note that these services include some other data that isn’t music, like album art, and that small amount of data will count against your limit.

Supported music streaming apps include Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Groove Music, Pandora, Slacker, Spotify, TIDAL, and many more. A full list of music streaming services and more information is available on T-Mobile’s Music Freedom website.

There’s no downside to this feature. It just gives you free data when streaming music from some services. It won’t decrease the quality of the music you stream.

Binge On for Video

RELATED: How to Prevent T-Mobile From Throttling Streaming Video

The “Binge On” feature works by allowing you to stream an unlimited amount of video from certain video-streaming services without it counting against your data allowance.

However, Binge On’s throttling decreases the quality of the videos you stream. That’s the downside–you can stream everything you like for free but it’s lower quality than if it were counting against your data cap. T-Mobile is betting that you won’t mind seeing lower-quality video on a small smartphone screen.

Binge On also throttles all videos you stream on your phone, even when they’re not from a service that’s opted into unlimited video streaming. This makes all videos lower quality, so they’ll take up less of your data. If you have an unlimited data plan or just don’t like this throttling, you may want to disable the Binge On feature to stream maximum-quality videos on your phone. T-Mobile won’t throttle videos if you disable this.

Binge On is more flexible than Music Freedom. You can stream from a supported service using the normal app or website. You can also tether to a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone and stream the service on there without that counting against your data usage. However, devices like set-top boxes and game consoles currently aren’t supported.

Supported video streaming apps include Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, HBO Go, HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube, and many more. A full list of video streaming services and more information is available on T-Mobile’s Binge On website.

While this seems convenient for T-Mobile customers, it does raise net neutrality concerns. T-Mobile is privileging certain types of data and certain specific services, potentially making it difficult for new music and video streaming services to compete. T-Mobile disagrees and argues the features are helpful. The debate will continue.

Image Credit: Mike Mozart

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »