Music-focused MVNO ROK Mobile launches, but limits availability

ROK Mobile, a new music-focused MVNO, launched its service on Friday, but the company is limiting how many people can try its service as it hopes to build buzz around the new offering.

The service is now invitation-only, and is open only to people close to the company and an unknown number of people who request to join on the company's website, according to GigaOM. Those who get an invitation can sign up for a free 14-day trial of ROK's on-demand and streaming music app for iOS and Android. They can also sign up for the MVNO's wireless service, which offers unlimited voice, texting and data--and streaming music--for $50 per month.

It's unclear which carrier's network ROK uses, though GigaOM notes that T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is one partner. On its website, ROK says that it "takes our blazing fast 4G LTE nationwide service and turbocharges it with over 5 million curated hotspots to give you up to 10x the speeds of any other network."

ROK spokeswoman Alison Kennedy declined to say which carrier ROK is working with, but pointed to news articles that mentioned T-Mobile. She also confirmed to FierceWireless that ROK is working with Devicescape to get access to the company's curated Wi-Fi hotspot network.

ROK COO Gabriel René told GigaOM the company will eventually open up to all consumers, but he did not say when. ROK wants to use the limited launch to get feedback from early users but also to build up the "exclusive" nature of its brand.

In May, ROK announced it had signed agreements with major and independent music labels to offer a 20-million-song music catalogue. Just like Spotify, ROK users will be able to search for and stream songs, as well as create collections and download music when they do not have a data connection.

Further, ROK is also using personalization algorithms like those used by Beats Music and Pandora. To do so, it is partnering with Gracenote to allow users to filter songs and customize playlists based on their moods.

The launch of the service is notable in light of T-Mobile's recent announcement to exempt some streaming music services from counting against customers' data buckets if they use its no-contract Simple Choice plans.

Under the T-Mobile's "Music Freedom" plans, which the carrier introduced June 18, T-Mobile is offering its Simple Choice customers unlimited access to six music streaming services, including Pandora, Slacker, iHeart Radio and Spotify, without incurring data charges on their LTE plans. Samsung's Milk Music and the forthcoming Beatport music app from SFX will also be offered to customers free of data charges.

T-Mobile and ROK aren't the only carriers targeting the intersection of wireless and music. Sprint recently announced a deal with Spotify and AT&T offers discounts to Beats Music.

For more:
- see this ROK site
- see this GigaOM article

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