Report: Chet Kanojia's 'Starry' startup may launch wireless service in 3.8 GHz across 15 U.S. cities

Entrepreneur Chet Kanojia is preparing to announce a new startup aimed at providing wireless Internet access in major metropolitan centers across the U.S., according to a report from Variety.

Kanojia, who founded the now-defunct over-the-air video provider Aereo, has hired at least 20 former employees and has been working for more than a year on the effort, dubbed "Project Decibel." Variety reports that Project Decibel has joined the Wi-Fi Alliance, suggesting that the startup will build and deploy Wi-Fi hardware. Meanwhile, the company has incorporated "Starry Inc.," and the new entity has registered with the IEEE.

Meanwhile, a company called Starry Spectrum LLC -- which uses Project Decibel's office address -- has requested permission from the FCC to test new wireless equipment. According to the filing, Starry is working on gear that would use the 3.8 GHz range of spectrum for wireless data transmissions. Kanojia will unveil the project to journalists at a media event in New York next week, Variety reports, and is preparing to test its service in 15 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Each service area would comprise 15 base stations and as many as 250 devices that could be placed in homes or businesses.

Project Decibel could pose a threat to heavyweight fixed-line broadband providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as Variety notes. But Kanojia's new company might also be looking to launch a disruptive wireless service that leans primarily on Wi-Fi, perhaps using cellular as a backup technology.

That's a strategy Google is modestly pursuing with its Project Fi, which was recently expanded to support data-only devices; a handful of MVNOs are hoping to leverage similar models. None of those players has become much of a threat to major wireless carriers yet, but Starry could join the list of potential disruptors in mobile.

For more:
- see this Variety report

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Article updated Jan. 25 to correct Chet Kanojia's name spelling.