Chet Kanojia tried to shake up the broadcast TV industry with Aereo — but his streaming-video startup was sued into bankruptcy.
Now the entrepreneurial engineer is back, and he’s taking on corporate giants in another sector: broadband Internet service. As reported previously by Variety, Kanojia’s Starry is offering wireless access to consumers, positioned as a more affordable option than wireline broadband service from big ISPs like Comcast, AT&T or Verizon.
Starry, launched Wednesday after more than a year in stealth under the code-name Project Decibel, promises to deliver speeds up to 1 gigabit per second via a sleekly designed home router. And, unlike many incumbent ISPs, Starry says there will be no data-usage caps with its Internet service.
Starry plans to launch its first beta in the Boston area this summer; the company didn’t announce pricing details for the service. Starry Internet customers will receive the Starry Station Wi-Fi router (pictured above) and an access point that sits outside the subscriber’s window. The Starry Station also will sell at retail for $350, for use with an existing ISP, and is slated to begin shipping in March.
Starry’s investors include FirstMark Capital, Tiger Global, Barry Diller’s IAC, KKR, HLVP and Quantum Strategic Partners.
“The future of connectivity is wireless and having simple, affordable access to an Internet connection is imperative for every household and business,” Kanojia said in announcing Starry. “With Starry’s technology, we can deploy and scale faster than traditional wired networks – at a fraction of the cost. This is how the networks of the future will be built around the globe.”
It’s unclear whether Starry will take off – or be able to deliver the speeds it’s claiming. But in any case, the new venture will not face the legal issues that spelled Aereo’s doom. Major TV broadcasters objected that the Aereo service was infringing their copyrights by retransmitting their signals, and in 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in the industry’s favor.
Here is Starry’s purported secret sauce: The startup says it has developed a way to deliver Internet data across multiple licensed spectrum bands, including ultra-high-frequency millimeter waves, to homes or businesses through a self-installed home receiver. That approach, according to Kanojia, eliminates the need for technicians to set up and install the service and is what enables up to 1-Gbps access speeds.