Cellphone company T-Mobile to launch TV service next year

NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile is launching a TV service next year, becoming the latest company to marry wireless and video.

The service will target people who aren’t interested in traditional cable and satellite TV packages. T-Mobile promises to address consumer complaints such as “sky-high bills” and “exploding bundles.” The company wouldn’t provide details on its upcoming offering, including how it would differ from existing online TV alternatives from Hulu, YouTube, Sony, AT&T and Dish.

The nation’s No. 3 wireless carrier said Wednesday that it bought cable-TV startup Layer3 TV to help it roll out the service. T-Mobile didn’t disclose how much it paid for Layer3, which is available in five U.S. cities.

T-Mobile’s reputation for shaking up the wireless industry could give it leverage with consumers in an already crowded online-TV market. T-Mobile is known for largely getting rid of two-year phone contracts and helping bring back unlimited-data plans in wireless. The strategy has helped T-Mobile gain customers for years, even as growth in the industry has slowed overall because most Americans already have cellphones.

T-Mobile has already taken steps to connect its wireless business to video as the telecom, tech and media industries grow closer together. For instance, many T-Mobile wireless customers are getting Netflix for free.

AT&T’s streaming service is called DirecTV Now, which AT&T discounts in bundles with wireless plans. It also throws in HBO for free for cellphone customers with unlimited plans. Cable company Comcast, the owner of NBCUniversal, this year launched a cellphone business. Media conglomerate Disney is working on new streaming services that could rival Netflix, bypassing traditional cable TV and going straight to consumers.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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