[Wired] Free Mobile Data Plans Are Going to Crush the Startup Economy

The deal sounds great: Stream unlimited music without any data charges. The offer from T-Mobile includes popular services such as Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora. These apps will no longer count against your data plan, the company announced recently, no matter how much you stream across its 4G LTE network. [...]

What all of this zero rating activity is setting up is a mobile internet that looks a lot more like cable TV than our wide open Internet,” Wilson writes. “Soon, a startup will have to negotiate a zero rating plan before launching because mobile app customers will be trained to only use apps that are zero rated on their network.” [...]

Just yesterday, Facebook-backed nonprofit Internet.org announced an app that provides free data mobile users in Zambia to access a limited number of services, including Google searches, Facebook messenger, and information on health, jobs, and women’s rights. Any access is better than no access, but as WIRED’s Mat Honan wrote: “An internet for poor people that in any way provides less access than the full-throated internet those of us reading this enjoy? That’s troubling. It’s another digital divide.” [...]