Aereo Founder Aloft Again, With Broadband in Sights

Aiming to disrupt and expand the broadband market, former Aereo founder Chet Kanojia has launched another startup, called Starry, that will use licensed airwaves to deliver services — at speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second — potentially on a nationwide basis.

The Starry Internet service will connect customers using a fixedwireless platform powered by millimeter wave band technology that uses OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing), a bandwidth- efficient modulation scheme widely used by the wireless industry and also being adopted by cable for the emerging multi-Gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 platform.

Starry’s offering will feature the Starry Station, an in-home hub with on-board 802.11ac WiFi graced with a 3.8-inch touchscreen that will retail for $350 and start shipping in March. That device will work in tandem with the Starry Point (a homeside transceiver) and the Starry Beam (metro-level nodes).

Starry expects to launch a beta trial this summer in Boston and expand into more cities later this year.

Last week, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler praised Starry’s plans for a new broadband competitor. Starry’s system will use millimeter wave bands above 24 Gigahertz, which the FCC is considering for wireless broadband services. At a press conference following the FCC’s Jan. 28 public meeting, Wheeler said it’s his understanding that Starry might need some waivers to operate in the 38 GHz high-frequency band, and that the agency would “look at that appropriately.”

Starry hasn’t announced pricing plans, but Kanojia said in an interview that the service will likely offer various speed tiers. While Starry will be capable of 1 Gbps, speeds are likely to range from 50 Megabits per second to 100 Mbps, he said.

The service will target anyone who wants broadband, but it will drive “a lot of interest particularly where DSL isn’t capable of delivering the right speeds, and to [video] streamers who don’t want to deal with [data] caps,” Kanojia said.

Starry currently has almost 50 employees and financial backing from FirstMark Capital, Tiger Global, IAC, KKR, HLVP and Quantum Strategic Partners.

John Eggerton contributed to this story.