Months have passed since T-Mobile bought Layer3 and promised to launch a disruptive new TV service, and so far the company has been tight-lipped about its plans. However, clues have trickled out ahead of T-Mobile’s mysterious “Un-carrier” announcement event scheduled for tomorrow.
Colby Synesael, an analyst at Wall Street research firm Cowen and Company, recently dug up a bunch of hints suggesting T-Mobile’s scheduled announcement event tomorrow will be the unveiling of its T-Mobile TV service based on Layer3 technology. Synesael said T-Mobile is discontinuing its own video app, and he spotted a video posted by T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert that could be referring to cable TV as a “soon-to-be-relic.” He also noted T-Mobile’s Layer3 website, the fact that Layer3 is building its own content delivery network and a Maryland T-Mobile store’s posting about a Layer3 launch party on Aug. 24.
“While we don’t want to go too far with our assumptions considering T-Mobile has yet to actually announce its next Un-carrier offer, if we are correct that it does involve Layer3 TV/video, our initial view is it will be initially used to reduce churn and longer-term to continue to effectively compete across a growing number of companies we expect to offer a quad play of video, in-home BB, mobile BB, and voice,” Synesael wrote in a research note.
Of course, it’s possible T-Mobile is announcing something different Wednesday. Recon Analytics’ Roger Entner believes this week’s Un-carrier announcement won’t be about Layer3.
“I don’t think that they’re going to announce over-the-top television on Wednesday,” he said. “It’s just not enough time between when they bought it and where we are today.”
But T-Mobile did promise a TV service in 2018. And besides the clues relative to the T-Mobile/Layer3 launch Synesael unearthed, a wealth of details about what T-Mobile may be planning to launch through its Layer3 purchase can be found in the job listings the company has posted for its new Home and Entertainment business segment. Here are a few of the listings and what they may reveal about T-Mobile’s TV plans.
Description: Understanding of set-top-box systems; performing all in-home installations; understanding DOCSIS, WiFi and MoCA; and understanding of home networking.
What it means: Despite T-Mobile’s promises of a disruptive TV service, it looks as though its Layer3 TV will still require install techs and truck rolls. That means visits from TV and broadband service techs for consumers and higher subscriber acquisition costs for T-Mobile. Separate listings for other install techs suggest Philadelphia and Detroit could be Layer3 markets in the near future, joining Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Washington D.C.
Description: Research, development and implementation of cloud and network DVR systems and technology for storing and delivering near infinite amounts of content.
What it means: Cloud DVR technology is becoming increasingly popular, especially as more people sign up for virtual MVPDs that don’t offer traditional set-top boxes with built-in storage. So, it’s unsurprising that T-Mobile is working on its own cloud DVR deployment. But the mention of a cloud DVR here suggests T-Mobile wants to launch a multiscreen service with a DVR that can be accessed on any connected device. It also suggested Layer3’s massive 1TB local storage DVR may not be a part of the new disruptive plans.
Description: We’re looking for a creative, multitalented PR rock star to lead the communications strategy and execution as we launch into TV and the entertainment space.
What it means: Within the PR manager job description, T-Mobile also mentions internet of things (IoT) consumer offerings. Right now T-Mobile offers enterprise IoT services including a narrowband network, fleet management, asset tracking, smart grid and connected retail. If the company jumps into consumer offerings, it could begin offering home automation, security, etc.
Description: Architecture, development, engineering, integration and testing of complex IP video delivery system utilizing CDN and Web Server technologies.
What it means: T-Mobile is building its own CDN and has peering facilities in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Ashburn, Virginia. The fact that T-Mobile is doing this suggests the company has a lot of specialized content in need of a lot of customization, and that the company is serious about being able to deliver that content with the best quality possible. It also means T-Mobile is betting on scaling its video business.