Starry Station Wi-Fi Router Aims To Bring Gigabit Internet to Homes
The founder of a now-defunct firm that pioneered delivering streaming TV channels over the air via the Internet is now hoping to achieve another milestone. Chaitanya "Chet" Kanojia, the man who founded bankrupt Aereo, said this week that he's launching a new company, Starry, to bring gigabit wireless Internet into every U.S. home.
The Starry Station router (pictured above) uses millimeter wave technology instead of connected fiber lines. Those waves run on the 38 Ghz unlicensed band -- a high frequency that has been mostly avoided in the past because it can be easily blocked by walls and doors, as well as by rain and other weather conditions.
For its transmitter towers, Starry plans to use active phase array devices called Starry Beams, according to the company. The devices will be placed on rooftops or other high vantage points. Starry said that with mostly clear skies, they should have a range of between 0.6 and 1.2 miles.
Kanojia said he wants to give consumers more options when it comes to getting super-fast Internet, adding that most consumers have fewer provider options due to a lack of competition in the gigabit market. Part of the reason that there are so few players in the gigabit Internet arena is that deploying infrastructure, such as fiber lines, is too expensive and time-consuming for most smaller companies.
The plan appears to have some hurdles, however. Millimeter waves can’t send data very far, meaning that there will have to be lots of Starry antennas in a given area to move data from one point to another. And, the tendency for millimeter waves to struggle penetrating walls and windows are part of the reason they’ve never been used to provide commercial Internet connections.
Starry Station’s solution? Placing the wireless router half inside the home and half outside. Kanojia said by doing that, the millimeter waves can easily penetrate walls, although the company hasn’t said how the router will deal with rain, another bugaboo of millimeter waves.
Besides the technical challenges, millimeter waves are categorized as unlicensed bands of spectrum, and that means they're not authorized to be used for commercial enterprises, according to a report in The Verge. It remains to be seen whether Starry Station even gets approved by the Federal Communications Commission and other regulators. Aereo was done in by a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held that its retransmission of television broadcast signals over the Internet constituted a violation of federal copyright law.
Despite all the contingency factors, Starry Station is available for pre-order reservations. Orders for the $350 product will start getting filled on February 5. After that, consumers will have to wait, maybe for years, before Starry can begin providing Internet service.
Image Credit: Starry.