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T-Mobile Unveils a 300-Channel TV Service, Saying Its Attack on Big Cable Has Yet to Begin

April 10, 2019, 1:00 PM UTC

T-Mobile unveiled a piece of its new strategy to take on the cable TV industry, though the first foray probably won’t make giants like Comcast and Charter Communications too nervous—at least not yet.

Dubbed TVision, the offering is much like existing high-end pay TV packages, with almost 300 channels arriving in customers’ homes via a dedicated set top box, at a cost starting at $100 per month. Initially, the service will be available starting April 14 in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., plus Longmont, Colo. Additional markets will be added “later this year,” T-Mobile said in a press release on Wednesday.

The service will require that customers have a broadband Internet connection, though it is designed to also work wirelessly with T-Mobile’s 5G network coming later this year.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been promising since December 2017, when the carrier bought startup video service Layer 3, that he would bring his unconventional and customer-friendly approach to cable. And since last year’s proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, he has been talking up T-Mobile’s impending attack on cable even more strongly. “In 2019, we’ll take our first steps to take on another stupid, broken, arrogant industry—maybe the stupidest, brokenest, arrogantest industry of all: cable and satellite TV,” Legere wrote in a blog post in December.

But the initial T-Mobile (TMUS) offering has a lesser aim, focusing on stealing premium cable customers, not cord cutters or other consumers fed up with high bills and an excessive number of channels. “Today’s news brings us one step closer to taking on Big Cable,” Legere said in a statement, adding he “can’t wait to launch” his bigger attack on cable later. But no additional details of that service were forthcoming.

T-Mobile’s TVision service could appeal to consumers who love what they get from cable but want more flexibility. The service costs $90 for the channels, plus $10 for each set top box to connect a TV. The service also includes many features that cable providers charge extra for, like a built-in DVR with 1 TB of storage and some 4K resolution programming. The T-Mobile set top box will also allow customers to add subscriptions to premium channels like HBO and Showtime, as well as access online streaming apps such as Google’s YouTube, Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video, and—coming soon—Netflix (NFLX).