T-Mobile Promises ‘Wireless-First’ TV

Why This Matters: The still-growing IBC show in Amsterdam is gaining traction among TV tech executives in the U.S. and Canada.

T-Mobile was vociferous about its plans to (further?) disrupt the pay TV business after acquiring video company Layer3 TV in December for around $325 million.

Since that time, the No. 4 wireless U.S. operator has been quiet about its big video plan. But now it’s trying to merge with the No. 3 operator, Sprint, and the so-called “Un-Carrier” decided to reveal some of its upcoming TV moves to the FCC.

According to a redacted version of that presentation, which the FCC made available online, T-Mobile plans to rebrand Layer3 TV, and wirelessly distribute video — some of it in 4K — to both urban and rural areas via 5G technology. “Using the capacity and coverage of the New T-Mobile 5G network, New T-Mobile will bring ‘wireless first’ TV to urban and rural customers at 4K definition quality,” the company said.

In order to execute on the plan, T-Mobile said it simply needs the FCC to approve its proposed $26.5 billion merger agreement with Sprint.

T-Mobile maintains that, fortified with Sprint’s network infrastructure, it can connect 9.5 million U.S. customers to fixed wireless 5G broadband by 2024. It also claims it can deliver broadband speeds over this wireless network of 100 Megabits per second. As for Layer3 TV, the startup had around 5,000 subscribers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Longmont, Colo., when T-Mobile closed its purchase of it in January.

T-Mobile has said to the FCC that, beyond a "foothold" in pay TV from Layer3 TV, it needs the national scale provided by the Sprint purchase to drive down programming costs and make its goal of a nationally distributed wireless service a reality.

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!