With the launch of Spotify in Canada last month and the rise in popularity of music streaming applications like Rdio, Google Play Music, Deezer and Songza, comes a new obstacle for many Canadians interested in taking advantage of what a music streaming music platform has to offer: restrictive data caps.
Most high-end mobile data plans offered by Canadian service providers have a data cap of approximately 1 GB or sometimes only 500 MB, and this is when subscribers are often already shelling out somewhere between $60 and $80 a month for their smartphone plan. Sometimes limited offers and other incentives give subscribers slightly larger plans, but generally these deals don’t give users anymore than access to about 2 GBs of data.
Going over your mobile data cap means you’ll suffer from hefty overage fees, something no one wants to deal with.
Back when Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) took the smartphone world by storm, Bell, Telus and Rogers, each offered unique plans that gave users a set data cap, but also offered unlimited access to certain forms of social media or messaging applications like BBM. For the most part, plans like this no longer exist. But could we see their modern incarnation?
We reached out to the main three smartphone providers in Canada to see if they have plans to offer similar deals when it comes to music streaming now that getting your music through streaming platforms is slowly becoming a more common practice for Canadians.
It seems that, at least right now, major service providers in Canada have no plans to offer music streaming specific bundles.
“We don’t currently offer this, and I can’t speculate what we might offer in the future,” Telus told in a statement.
“We don’t currently offer plans that specifically have unlimited music streaming, but our Share Everything plans allow you to choose from 500 MB to 30 GB of data per month, depending on how you use your phone. The plans also allow you to share your data with up to 10 devices. We’re always reviewing our plans and will continue to evolve them as the needs of our customers change,” explained a representative from Rogers.
“Bell Mobility does not currently provide unlimited wireless data plans, but we offer high usage data options up to 15GB per month. Keep in mind our wireless plans are shareable too,” said a Bell PR spokesperson.
While streaming high-quality music doesn’t use as much data as high-definition video, it still eats up approximately 2 MB a minute for 320 kbps songs and about half that amount depending on your music quality settings. This means that just one hour of music could likely use 120 MB of your data plan. So if you stream music during your daily commute, which could be up to two hours a day, then multiple that by five days a week, many people will likely reach their data cap in very little time.
2 MB a minute might sound like a lot when you have 1 GB available, but it really isn’t.
So what does this mean for the average Canadian interested in streaming music on the go? The best option right now is to limit the quality of the music you’re listening to, making playing each song use significantly less data than normal.
This is a feature Spotify, Rdio, and Google Play Music all offer. In the case of Google Play Music and Rdio, another option is to download tracks you want to listen to via your mobile device, meaning you won’t need to rely on your data connection to access them on the go.