French telco offers free music downloads

French ISP Neuf Cegetel is offering unlimited music downloads from the Universal Music library as part of a new broadband service promotion. However, the definition of "unlimited"  is being stretched here: Customers who sign up for the provider's triple-play bundle can download as much music as they want from one of nine genres in the Universal catalog. For an extra 5 euros ($6.70), they can get whatever they want from any genre. But, Universal obviously doesn't have as much music available as, say, iTunes.

Nevertheless, this aggressive move offers a possible case study for how broadband service providers, such as telcos, could change the game for music download services. Offering free downloads on a limited basis, plus a new pricing structure for more music, could be a way for wireline companies to break into the market and for service providers in general to challenge the exclusivity AT&T has with Apple's iPhone.

For More:
- Read this extract from Ovum's EuroView Daily Comment Service, or this piece in The Wall Street Journal (Sub. req.)

One more thing:
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If telcos plan on being music censors, they might want to think twice about getting into this business. Computerworld blogger Preston Gralla has more on the AT&T-Pearl Jam scandal.

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