Starry, the company founded by former Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, is launching its wireless internet service in parts of Los Angeles and Washington D.C., promising to deliver unlimited internet access with speeds of 200 Mbps for $50 per month.
Starry first unveiled its plans to become a wireless internet access provider two years ago. The company has been testing its wireless internet technology in parts of Boston, and plans to launch in more than a dozen markets in 2018, including New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami and Minneapolis. Ultimately, it wants to compete with cable companies like Comcast and telcos like AT&T, and offer consumers cheaper access to fast broadband connections.
Starry isn’t the first company to try to take on the broadband giants. Google rolled out its own internet access business, dubbed Google Fiber, across a dozen markets. However, the company scaled back its ambitions significantly in the last two years after it struggled with slow and costly roll-outs of its fiber infrastructure.
Starry is trying to bypass these issues by using wireless technology for the last mile instead. The company is using neighborhood network nodes that connect to local access points mounted to the top of residential buildings. Consumers then access Starry’s internet service with a dedicated router.
Consumers in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. can use Starry’s website to see whether their building has access to the service yet. The company didn’t say how many consumers or buildings it plans to connect, but still called the launch in Los Angeles and D.C. part of a beta test. It said that it would grow its presence in both markets in the coming months.
It’s perhaps ironic that Starry is using the capital of the entertainment industry as one of its first markets: Company founder and CEO Chet Kanojia became infamous in Hollywood when he launched the TV streaming service Aereo five years ago.
Aereo tried to deliver a low-cost TV service to consumers by letting them rent their own personal antennas in the cloud, but was sued by broadcasters for not paying them for their programming. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the TV industry, forcing Aereo to shut down in 2014.