Starry CEO Chet Kanojia and others representing the company recently met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his legal adviser, Alison Nemeth, to discuss Starry’s proprietary 5G technology and its deployment progress in Boston and other cities.
Starry took the opportunity to reiterate its support for preserving commercial-to-commercial sharing in the lower 37 GHz band as proposed in the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers Report & Order.
Starry investors Richard Sarnoff of KKR and Amish Jani of FirstMark Capital offered an investor perspective on the market and how preserving a diverse licensing approach (such as sharing, exclusively licensed and unlicensed) in the millimeter wave bands would spur additional investment in a range of companies, with Starry being a prime example.
Starry’s backers also believe that given the characteristics of the 37 GHz band and the potential for spectrum re-use, sharing in the lower 37 GHz band can be coordinated using a simple site-based registration system, eliminating the need to use a complicated spectrum management system.
“Ultimately, as the development of new 5G technologies continues, Starry believes that it is critical that the Commission employ a diverse set of licensing models to encourage the maximum amount of innovation in these millimeter wave bands,” Starry said in an ex parte filing. “No one can predict with a certainty what technologies will emerge in the 5G evolution and moving towards an exclusively-licensed only model would effectively shut out new entrants into this space.”
According to the filing, Chairman Pai asked Starry about satellite sharing issues and the proposal to increase power levels for proposed satellite operations. The Starry representatives reiterated their concern that increasing power flux density levels for lower orbiting satellite constellations would have an adverse impact on terrestrial fixed operations.
Separately, Kanojia and Virginia Lam Abrams, senior vice president of Communications and Government Relations at Starry, participated in a meeting with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s legal adviser Daudeline Meme where the Starry representatives shared similar concerns.
Starry has authority from the FCC to deploy in 16 cities, starting with Boston. The company said it continues to expand its base of beta customers in the Boston area and plans to expand to additional cities before the end of 2017.
At a Citi investor conference earlier this year, Kanojia shared some of the early lessons from Starry’s work in Boston. He explained that Starry wanted to conduct initial experiments in Boston because its engineering teams are based there and it offers a harsh RF environment in which to test its theories.
Starry came out of stealth mode last year; Kanojia’s prior endeavors include Aereo, which captured over-the-air TV broadcasts and made them available to internet users but was shut down after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that deemed it violated copyright law.