Starry sports several compelling elements to its story: It’s a startup founded by Chet Kanojia, the entrepreneur who also founded Aereo, which tried to disrupt the TV/video industry but ended up in bankruptcy. It also designed and built the Starry Station, a high-end Wi-Fi hub sporting a touchscreen. And its wireless system can run in inexpensive spectrum bands including the 37-40 GHz range, and will relay internet signals to subscribers’ externally mounted reception antennas using non-line-of-sight wireless technology—similar to the fixed wireless setup Verizon and others are designing around 5G technology.
Starry announced late last year it would offer service in locations in Boston with the goal of refining its offering for a broader rollout across the country. Since then the company has remained relatively quiet, but Wall Street investment firm MoffettNathanson in late April reported that Starry is hoping to pass up to 500,000 homes in Boston this year. In its detailed report, MoffettNathanson added that Starry plans to work with 802.11ac network technology in base stations costing roughly $7,000 to $8,000 each, likely mounted on existing cellular towers and rooftops zoned for LTE-type equipment that will support transmissions up to 2 Km. The firm added that Starry’s antennas use 4x4 MIMO with the goal of upgrading to 8x8. Further, Starry is looking at deployments in areas with more than 1,000 homes per square mile, in order to make its service economical.
Importantly, MoffettNathanson noted Starry hasn’t yet settled on a price for its service, but discussed options ranging from $50 to $20 per month.
The upshot: “When most investors think 5G, they think the incumbent telcos. But it is a market that is ripe for innovation—invention, really—and that may play more to a startup like Starry than to the large behemoths,” the analysts at MoffettNathanson concluded of the ISP startup. “Starry is appropriately laser-focused on driving costs out of the system. Despite their obvious scale advantages, that's never been the strong suit of the largest operators.”
Article updated June 28 to correction information about Starry's deployment plans.