Chaitanya (Chet) Kanojia is determined to use wireless technology to change the way media is delivered. He scared the pants off the television industry with startup Aereo, which used thousands of tiny antennas to retransmit broadcast TV to smartphones. Aereo went bankrupt in late 2014 after the TV networks sued the startup in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Aereo was found guilty of copyright infringement.
Now Kanojia is back with another wireless startup called Starry. This time his goal is to disrupt traditional internet service providers by offering a cheaper, simpler wireless alternative.
Starry uses a proprietary millimeter wave active phased array technology that could be described as Wi-Fi on steroids. Kanojia says Starry’s base stations can transmit to receivers two kilometers away. Those receivers are attached to rooftops and connected to Starry’s customer premises equipment to deliver 200 Mbps broadband to consumers and businesses.
If this network architecture sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is strikingly similar to Verizon’s plan to deliver fixed wireless using 5G. Kanojia is keeping a close eye on 5G but thinks his solution will be cheaper.
Kanojia has said it costs Starry $20 to bring its service to each home in a dense area and analysts say that if Starry had the capital it could cover the densest parts of the U.S. for much less than it would cost the wireless carriers. So far, Starry’s urban deployments have been concentrated on the Eastern seaboard, but the company plans to launch services this year in 16 major markets.