Layer3 TV starts in Jan.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ta­mara Chuang

In the com­ing weeks, the mys­te­ri­ous Layer3 TV will be — or should be — a mys­tery no more. The Den­ver com­pany shared plans with The Den­ver Post that in­clude sign­ing up in­ter­ested lo­cal cus­tomers Thurs­day for its new ca­ble TV ser­vice. First come, first served.

“Layer3 TV is go­ing to launch in Den­ver in the mid­dle of Jan­uary,” said Eric Kuhn, Layer3’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer. “And those peo­ple who do sub­scribe early, we’ll call you when we’re ready to rock and roll. And you’ll be the first on your block to get the new ca­ble TV.”

Layer3, as far as we can tell, is noth­ing like any­thing that has launched in the TV mar­ket this year. Mainly, it’s not in­ter­net TV, or over-the-top ser­vice, like Sling TV or DirecTV Now. Hav­ing al­ready launched in Chicago, Layer3 is mar­keted as the ca­ble TV ser­vice worth pay­ing for be­cause it has an ex­ces­sive num­ber of high-def­i­ni­tion chan­nels, su­pe­rior cus­tomer ser­vice and no hid­den fees. As part of its Den­ver launch, it’s dis­count­ing monthly plans by $10 in the first year.

But how it will de­liver all this to Den­ver re­mains a mys­tery — for now.

“We are a ca­ble com­pany,” said Lind­say Gard­ner, Layer3’s chief con­tent of­fi­cer. “We’re Den­ver’s new­est ca­ble com­pany. You can’t get us over the in­ter­net. We’ve got in­stall­ers who show up at your home.”

Un­like Com­cast or Cen­tu­ryLink, Layer3 isn’t reg­is­tered as a ca­ble fran­chise, which is re­quired for ca­ble com­pa­nies that use pub­lic prop­erty to run ca­bles, ac­cord­ing to the city of Den­ver.

Layer3’s video tech­nol­ogy does re­quire in­ter­net ser­vice, but Layer3 calls it a “pri­vate IPTV” line. This is to en­sure that video qual­ity is su­pe­rior and to avoid the buffer­ing is­sues one might see on a Satur­day night while binge-watch­ing Netflix at the same time all your neigh­bors are too.

Of­fi­cial re­views of the ser­vice are rare. One user, Kapil, on a DSLRe­ fo­rum shared that he tried the ser­vice and

was told Layer3 rec­om­mended users have 75 mbps in­ter­net ser­vice at home. “Kapil” ended up can­cel­ing af­ter the trial pe­riod be­cause of “un­re­solved is­sues” but called the ser­vice “promis­ing.”

Gard­ner says it’s more like “concierge ca­ble,” and the Wall Street Jour­nal said it’s geared to­ward “high­end video cus­tomers.”

While new in­ter­net TV ser­vices like Sling TV stripped away chan­nels to get down to a $20 start­ing price, Layer3 does the op­po­site. The lineup in­cludes more than 250 chan­nels, in­clud­ing Dis­ney, Show­time and all the Vi­a­com chan­nels. And prices, at least in Chicago, hover in the $120 range for the core pack­age, ac­cord­ing to The Chicago Tri­bune.

“The $120 per month core pack­age might cause some sticker shock among con­sumers. Com­pound­ing it, the fact that the con­sumer then also must pay a tra­di­tional op­er­a­tor for a ro­bust broad­band con­nec­tion may face re­sis­tance in the mar­ket,” said Glenn Hower, se­nior re­search an­a­lyst with mar­ket re­searcher Parks As­so­ci­ates.

With fast ca­ble in­ter­net run­ning at least $30 to $40 a month, the over­all cost prob­a­bly will cause ex­ist­ing ca­ble cus­tomers to stick with what they have, he added

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if Layer3’s model of pre­mium ser­vice with what seems like a lot of avail­able sleek value-adds will com­pete in a sim­i­lar mar­ket like Sling TV, which is re­ally push­ing a no-frills BYOD (bring your own de­vice) model,” Hower said. “In a sense, it’s like watch­ing com­pre­hen­sive ser­vice air­lines like Lufthansa or Vir­gin At­lantic duke it out with low-cost car­ri­ers like Ryanair or EasyJet.”

On Thurs­day, Layer3 plans to an­nounce it has fi­nal­ized deals to add the NFL Network and NFL RedZone. It also has all seven of the Pac 7 chan­nels. In HD, of course.

Prices will be “com­pet­i­tive to what you have,” Kuhn said.

For com­pet­i­tive rea­sons, Layer3 wouldn’t share which ar­eas in Den­ver might qual­ify for in­stal­la­tion and ser­vice. But, added Gard­ner, “Our am­bi­tion is to serve all of Den­ver even­tu­ally.”

In May 2014, Layer3 an­nounced plans to move its Bos­ton head­quar­ters to Den­ver af­ter re­ceiv­ing $2.9 mil­lion in job-growth in­cen­tives from the state, plus busi­ness per­sonal prop­erty tax cred­its from the city. At the time, the com­pany said it ex­pected to cre­ate 312 new jobs in Den­ver that pay an av­er­age wage of $92,083.

It opened its of­fice near Union Sta­tion that fall and be­gan re­cruit­ing ca­ble and TV ex­ec­u­tives from all over, in­clud­ing Gard­ner, whose past jobs in­clude gigs with Fox Net­works and Cox Ca­ble.

More re­cently, Gard­ner was help­ing with other chores, which in­cluded tak­ing one of the all-elec­tric BMW i3s for ser­vice at Schomp BMW.

“We all do ev­ery job here,” Gard­ner said.

Layer3, which has raised about $80 mil­lion from in­vestors, now em­ploys 160 peo­ple na­tion­wide, with the ma­jor­ity at its down­town or Den­ver Tech Cen­ter of­fices.

The elec­tric Layer3 TV BMW i3 will be used to in­stall ca­ble ser­vice for Den­ver cus­tomers. Pro­vided by Layer3 TV

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