T-Mobile TVision Home: The Un-carrier declares war on the pay TV industry

Justin Herrick
Justin Herrick
Apr 12, 2019

T-Mobile made its name as a disruptor in the wireless industry, and now the nation’s third-largest carrier is set to bring its aggressive tactics to the pay TV industry.

Instead of installing fiber-optic cables or launching thousands of satellites, T-Mobile thinks it can attract subscribers to an alternative relying on simply streaming over  Wi-Fi.

It is tackling the pay-TV industry using a full-fledged lineup of channels streaming on a next-generation set-top box, all powered by an artificial intelligence guide that’ll work out what you should watch.

TVision Home aims to solve the hassle of signing up for TV service. Order the set-top-box, connect to a Wi-Fi network and instantly you’re able to watch hundreds of channels.

It also serves up additional content from third-party partners like Amazon Video, iHeartRadio, Netflix and YouTube so you can enjoy both live and on-demand content on a single device.

How much does T-Mobile’s TVision Home cost? When can I sign up?

T-Mobile’s TVision Home costs $99.99/mo.*, but anyone with the company’s wireless service can take $9.99 off that price. The discount is also open to everyone for a limited time. Have more than one TV unit? With TVision Home, you’ll pay $10/mo.* for each additional screen that connects to a miniature set-top box. And, of course, premium channels like HBO and Showtime are extra purchases.

If you’re interested, TVision Home will be available starting on April 14 in a handful of U.S. cities — Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Longmont, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. T-Mobile intends to expand TVision Home’s availability throughout 2019 and beyond.

What channels does TVision Home include? Are there any other features?

The lineup of channels should be enough for most U.S. consumers, although T-Mobile has only revealed a few of the 275+ channels. However, the large number indicates T-Mobile has signed deals with many of the major media companies to carry popular channels with high viewership.

TVision Home will offer local affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC as well as cable channels like Bravo, CNN, Cartoon Network, ESPN, Food Network, MTV, NFL Network, VH1 and many more.

Unlike some live TV streaming services, TVision Home appears to be stacked with channels covering key categories — children’s programming, news, reality TV, scripted programming and sports. Just by saying there are 275+ channels, T-Mobile’s TVision Home leaps ahead of competitors selling ‘skinny bundles’ with only a few dozen channels that lightly touch on the same categories.

Plus, T-Mobile says over 35,000 on-demand movies and TV shows are available. You’ll go through third-party apps installed on the set-top box using your TVision Home profile.

The set-top box also includes enhanced features like 400 hours of DVR in HD, voice commands with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and artificial intelligence-driven personalized profiles for every user.

Why is T-Mobile getting into the pay TV industry now?

It’s a new name, but T-Mobile didn’t create an entirely new platform. The technology was already in place from an earlier acquisition. Layer3 TV, which T-Mobile purchased at the end of 2017, aimed to ditch annual contracts and fees that are often associated with cable and satellite TV service.

Similarly, Layer3 TV didn’t utilize cables or satellites. As long as you had access to a Wi-Fi network, the service worked. The same remains true for TVision Home. All of its assets were quietly repackaged to fit T-Mobile’s magenta-inspired brand.

T-Mobile’s reliance solely on wireless service worried investors, and that’s in part why the company decided to diversify and enter the pay TV industry. As the company says 74% of American households are paying an average of $107.30 per month for cable or satellite TV service, TVision Home might be able to usher in industry-rattling affordability and flexibility.

In the future, T-Mobile says it would like to see TVision Home used on its 5G network. So there might not be any need for a set-top box in a few years. Also, the still-pending merger between T-Mobile and Sprint will unlock a vast amount of resources, letting T-Mobile’s 5G network advance rapidly to replace traditional technologies like cable and satellite while accomplishing a whole lot more.