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Boost Joins Virgin, MetroPCS in Offering Free Music Streaming

The ongoing battle among discount carriers to attract mobile phone customers is being set to the sound of streaming music. Boost Mobile became the latest carrier to offer unlimited music streaming, announcing that customers would be able to listen to music from five services without it counting against their monthly data limit.

The services supported by Boost include Pandora, iHeart Radio, Slacker Radio, Samsung Milk Music and 8tracks. Free music streaming goes into effect today (Dec. 9) for all Boost data plans, from the $35-a-month 2GB plan to Boost's $60 unlimited data offering.

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Boost is hardly the first carrier to make such a move. Virgin Mobile — which, like Boost, is owned by Sprint — announced a similar move back in October. Virgin initially let customers stream music from Pandora, iHeartRadio and Slacker without it counting against their allotted data. Today, Virgin's adding Samsung Milk Music and 8tracks to its supported services, giving it parity with Boost.

It's not hard to figure out why unlimited music streaming appeals to prepaid wireless customers in particular. You're likely turning to a discount carrier because you're looking to save money; anything that helps you get more bang for your data buck is likely to be an attractive perk.

The only thing louder than the sound of streaming music emanating from discount carriers might be the sound of T-Mobile CEO John Legere saying "I told you so." T-Mobile was the first carrier to stop having streaming music count against subscribers' data limits when it launched its Music Freedom program last year. Earlier this month, T-Mobile increased the number of streaming services it supports to 44, when it added 11 more providers to the mix.

T-Mobile's discount subsidiary MetroPCS also lets subscribers stream music for free. Its Music Unlimited feature, launched in November, supports the same services T-Mobile does. Notably, though, you need at least a 3GB plan to take advantage of MetroPCS's free music streaming; subscribers on the $30 1GB plan aren't eligible.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.