Watch Out Comcast, Startup Aims to Deliver Cheap Internet

It's got a touchscreen router and a plan to cut out Internet providers.

The new touchscreen router from Starry.

The new touchscreen router from Starry.

Chet Kanojia has an incredibly ambitious plan to take on some of the biggest businesses in the world. He aims to provide low-cost, gigabit-speed Internet access delivered through a wireless network. If successful, it could disrupt a multi billion-dollar industry where customers in many markets feel there is little competition.

Called Starry, the company is attempting to offer broadband service without all those clunky wires. It has a touchscreen router that can connect multiple devices. The company’s website offers this clever tagline: “Try unplugging the router,” said no Starry user ever. But Starry also has an antenna that you have to stick out of a window. Not super convenient.

The router costs $350 but the monthly cost for service has not yet been released.

The company is Kanojia’s follow up to Aereo, a failed startup that allowed subscribers to view live and time-shifted streams of over-the-air television.

The antenna that you have to stick out the window.

The antenna.

Can Starry really pose a threat to Comcast, Verizon and others? Let’s let the tech writers have their say.

The Verge says the company “may run into its own regulatory troubles as it attempts to leverage unlicensed bands of spectrum.” It goes on to call Starry’s setup “bizarre.”

“Starry doesn’t want to deal with costly things like buying up wireless spectrum, so it’s using airwaves that are freely available,” The Verge said. “It’s also using airwaves that are fast. But doing so means choosing airwaves that don’t travel very far and are stopped by, yes, even a window. Starry needs an antenna to bring its wireless internet connection from outside to inside of a home, and this is the solution it settled on.”

Re/Code says “it’s worth noting that lots of people have talked about fixed wireless broadband, and some have even tried, and none have been successful. Clearwire, for instance, was an expensive argument against the idea.”

Wired wonders if Starry can really free customers from bundled technology packages.

“There will, of course, be ample competition, not only from giants like Comcast, but also newer providers like Google, which have been expanding its Google Fiber networks across the country in recent years. It will also face off against startups like Karma which, though still in their infancy, are also experimenting with wireless access,” said Wired. “But while Starry is competing directly with these companies, it’s also building routers that anyone can use, no matter their internet service provider.”

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with BizPhilly — here’s how:


IN THIS SECTION