Starry CEO: Verizon’s 5G Home service legitimizes fixed wireless

DALLAS—Verizon’s launch of its 5G Home service is great for companies like Starry in the fixed wireless space, according to Starry CEO Chet Kanojia.

“They legitimized it,” he said of Verizon’s launch of its 5G at Home service at 28 GHz. His comments were made during a fireside chat at the Fierce Wireless Next Gen Wireless Networks Summit 2018.  

Starry is an early stage company that is challenging the status quo, offering a fixed wireless service at $50 for up to 200 mbps download/upload. But when it emerged a few years ago, a lot of people were still skeptical about using millimeter wave spectrum to offer a stable, at-home service of any kind.

Starry has offered the service the longest in the Boston area, and it’s gone better than imagined. Although it has not disclosed subscriber numbers, Kanojia said the company will probably break even in Boston in the second quarter of 2019.

Starry has launched in Los Angeles and is building out Washington, D.C., and New York City. The company had said earlier that it wanted to launch in these additional markets as well: Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami and Minneapolis.

In August, the company revealed it plans to expand its service to even more previously unannounced markets including Memphis, Tennessee; Phoenix; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Portland, Oregon.

RELATED: Starry expands deployment plans, reaches 350K homes in Boston

Starry designs its own equipment in-house, so its model is a bit different than some other fixed wireless providers. The company invested a lot of time into getting its products working in the form factor they’re in, including a window unit designed to sit both inside and outside of a window. Inside the window unit is an 802.11ax modem and an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna; the whole thing is coated with the kind of material that will withstand snow, ice and snowmelt.

Starry is also working directly with real estate companies, rather than public infrastructure, to get its gear deployed. It has been in development a few years.

Starry’s proprietary active phased array technology is based on the IEEE’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which is part of the reason it’s able to make the number pencil out. It’s been predominantly using 37 GHz spectrum.

Verizon started offering its Verizon 5G Home service on Oct. 1 in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. Service is free for three months, then increases to $50 per month for customers with Verizon wireless service or $70 per month for those without.

Customers have been told to expect typical network speeds around 300 Mbps and, depending on location, peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps, with no data caps.