You may or may not remember Aereo, the New York City-based technology company that enabled its subscribers to view live and time-shifted broadcast television on internet-enabled devices. After all, the company barely lasted two years before the Supreme Court ruled that the company’s service infringed on the rights of copyright holders. Days after the ruling, Aereo suspended its services and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy months later.
Many felt that the Aereo ruling wasn’t the right one. Those people should be interested to learn that Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia is back with a new startup called Starry. Like Aereo, Starry aims to disrupt the business models of cable and phone companies like Time Warner Cable and Verizon (News - Alert), this time with a new type of wireless network.
According to Bloomberg Business, Starry plans to sell Wi-Fi routers called Starry Stations at a price of $350. These routers will allow for gigabit speeds, putting the wireless service on par with most wired internet connections. Meanwhile, Starry’s wireless plans won’t be capped in terms of data usage and heavy data users won’t be throttled.
Starry plans to launch in Boston sometime this summer, with other markets to be announced later in the year. The company has already asked the FCC (News - Alert) if it can test its service in 15 cities. That’s a surprisingly clear picture for a service that doesn’t even exist yet.
The only real mystery at this point is price. Kanojia says that Starry will have to spend about $25 to connect each home, about one percent of what he estimates it costs to install wired internet service, which bodes well for the final price point. Otherwise, Kanojia indicated that Starry’s subscription cost will undercut the typical cost of its competitors, $70 per month.
So how is this all possible? The short answer is millimeter wave band active phased array technology, but that likely doesn’t mean much to most. The long answer is that this type of wireless signal isn’t currently used for communications. In fact, Kanojia says it’s so underused that there’s plenty to go around, which is good news considering spectrum auctions tend to be fierce, pricy battles.
Millimeter-wave communications systems traditionally feature a hyper-focused signal to be picked up by a single receiver. However, recent technology advancements have made it possible to harness these signals like any wireless internet signal. There are still a lot of questions as to the specifics of how this will all work, but those will surely be answered when Starry launches later this year.