T-Mobile boosts RCS in TV reboot with Google

TVision
Starting later this year, Google’s Messages app will be pre-installed on all new Android devices that T-Mobile sells. (Fierce Video)

T-Mobile U.S. revealed plans to shut down its TVision Live streaming video service next month, instead it's teaming with Google to carry its TV ambitions forward in a deal that will also provide a boost for Rich Communication Services (RCS).

The operator said its TVision Live and Vibe services will close on April 29 and be replaced by Google’s YouTube TV and an offering from over-the-top TV provider Philo. The latter will become the operator’s baseline TV product, starting at $10 per month, with YouTube TV offered as a premium-tier option at $54.99 per month.

Notably, T-Mobile’s partnership agreement with Google includes a collaboration aimed at expanding RCS access. A T-Mobile spokesperson told Fierce that starting later this year, the Google’s Messages app will be pre-installed on all new Android devices it sells. “By standardizing Messages by Google as the default RCS messaging client on all new Android devices, we are moving toward a unified messaging experience for all Android users,” said the spokesperson.

The T-Mobile representative said it will also work with Google to build a “branded, rich and interactive messaging experience” for enterprises, which aims to improve interactions with mobile customers.

Additionally, the operator will expand the range of Pixel and other Google devices it carries, and offer customers access to cloud storage using Google One.

T-Mobile previously teamed with Google in May 2020 to enable cross-carrier RCS messaging for its subscribers.

RELATED: T-Mobile refocuses TVision with Android TV device and new plans

TVision launched in November 2020, and immediately ran into trouble with programmers over the operator’s channel bundling strategy. 

In a blog, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the shutdown of its live service might come as a “surprise” given the recent launch, but pitched it as a “big upgrade” for customers since subscribers will get more channels, unlimited DVR capabilities and be able to stream on more devices including Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.