Tech by VICE

Quebec Is Now the Only Place In Canada Where Streaming Music Doesn't Suck

Streaming services such as Rdio, Spotify and Google Music will no longer count towards some Videotron subscribers' data caps.

by Matthew Braga
Aug 27 2015, 6:15pm

Image: Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr

Easily the biggest barrier to streaming music on mobile phones is data—chiefly, a lack of data, thanks in no small part to Canada's extremely expensive cellphone plans.

It should come as a relief to music lovers, then, that Videotron, a telecom provider based in the province of Quebec, is no longer charging for data used by streaming services such as Rdio, Spotify and Google Music with select plans.

The service, called Unlimited Music, will be offered free of charge to Videotron customers who are subscribed to mobile plans with at least 2 GB of data, "or to an Internet + Mobile package with at least 1 GB of data," according to a statement released on Thursday.

Videotron's Unlimited Music service is similar to a service offered by T-Mobile in the United States, which, at present, exempts 33 distinct streaming services from counting towards subscribers' data plans. (T-Mobile even excludes services such as BandCamp and SoundCloud, which are favoured by independent artists.)

Notably, Apple Music was not mentioned in the Videotron release, although, the company stated that "In the coming weeks and months, other popular services will be added to the list."

The practice of exempting certain services from counting towards data caps hasn't come without controversy, however. Although zero rating traffic, as the practice is called, isn't new—telecom companies have delivered their IPTV services this way for years—some say the practice is ultimately "anti-competitive, patronizing, and counter-productive" and a violation of net neutrality rules.

But hey, at least I can listen to the new Destroyer album on repeat free of charge now, right?