Internet users frustrated by a lack of alternatives to cable and other traditional Internet service providers may soon have access to a new superfast option—one that doesn't use wires at all.
Starry is a new startup founded by CEO Chet Kanojia, a serial telecommunications entrepreneur best known for his moon shot, Aereo, a TV-over-the-Internet venture that failed when the Supreme Court killed its business plan. Now Kanojia is aiming at the cable infrastructure itself by building a broadband network that works over radio waves instead of wires. It promises speeds of up to one gigabit per second, far faster than most wired technologies.
“We're building an end-to-end stack for Internet access,” Kanojia says, “and providing a competitive alternative to existing technologies.”
Starry is based on wireless technology in the very high frequency (VHF) spectrum, a little-used space that is generally defined by wavelengths in the 1mm to 10mm range, in between infrared and traditional radio waves. Millimeter waves are currently used in industrial and military applications that require a vast amount of bandwidth, but their best known application is an everyday technology: radar.
Kanojia says the millimeter band is ripe for consumer data use. The biggest attraction? “The space isn't crowded, so there's plenty of spectrum available,” he says. That spectrum can also accommodate faster speeds. Bandwidth channels are measured in megahertz; the wider the channel, the higher the throughput. Kanojia says Starry can provision channels that are hundreds of megahertz wide. In contrast, the bandwidth of a typical home WiFi network is only 40 megahertz. That should let Starry top out at a speed dramatically faster than any wireless data service—and most wired ones, too.