Chaitanya “Chet” Kanojia, the man who founded the now bankrupt Aereo, which allowed users to watch live broadcast television over an Internet connection, is launching a new company called Starry with the goal of bringing gigabit wireless Internet to every home.
Beginning in February, Kanojia will start selling the Starry Station, a wireless hub that he says will deliver extremely high-speed wireless Internet approaching gigabit speeds using millimeter waves instead of wired fiber lines.
Kanojia is launching the project because he wants to give consumers more choices of where to get ultra fast Internet from, reports The Verge, noting that most consumers are stuck with only a single provider option. Their options are limited due to a lack of competitors entering the gigabit market–laying fiber lines is an expensive undertaking most startups can’t afford. Kanojia’s plan to disrupt the establishment is to deliver those gigabit speeds wirelessly over the Starry Wi-Fi network.
It’s an ambitious goal, for sure. But as The Verge points out, Starry has two big obstacles it must overcome if it wants to become a wireless gigabit Internet provider.
The first is technical: Starry uses millimeter waves to send data. The problem with millimeter waves is that they can’t send data very far, which means Starry will need a lot of antennas to relay data from one point to another. Millimeter waves also have a hard time penetrating walls–and even windows. It’s for these reasons that millimeter waves have never been used to provide commercial Internet connections before.
But Kanojia says he has a solution for that: The Starry Station wireless router will be mounted half-inside your home and half-outside of it. This way, Kanojia says, the millimeter waves can easily penetrate your walls. What is less clear is how Starry intends to stop things like rain from affecting your Internet connection, considering millimeter waves even have a tough time penetrating water in the air.
But even if Starry can overcome the technical hurdles, it has one big remaining problem: Millimeter waves are unlicensed bands of spectrum that aren’t currently allowed to be used for consumer endeavors, notes The Verge. That means Starry’s use of millimeter waves may run into regulatory and legal troubles. Those troubles are something Kanojia is familiar with, given that in 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Aereo’s retransmission of television broadcast signals over the Internet violated federal copyright law.
However, if Starry still seems like something you want to try, you can check out the company’s intro video below and pre-order the Starry Station router on February 5 for $349.99; the product is currently set to be delivered in March, though, as Co.Design reports, it won’t begin providing Internet for several years.