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Startup Founder Has “Starry” Eyes

Pleiades large star cluster

Chet Kanojia was the founder and CEO of the prematurely-doomed startup Aereo. The premise of TV via the Internet was a good one, but it was over before it even began as soon as battling copyright with television networks became the only focus. However, to Kanojia, angering every television network wasn’t enough. Now Chet has his sights set on the Internet. With aims to cut out the middleman of service providers, Project Decibel, his new startup, has begun their new “Starry” Internet service. It “will launch its first beta in the Greater Boston area in the summer of 2016.” and plans to offer greater than broadband speeds at a price point less than the major Internet providers.

Aereo plans to sell wireless service with speeds of 1Gbps, and additional cities will be rolled out shortly after. Thus far no monthly pricing service has been announced. The startup wireless service will circumvent the expensive wired networks and be able to reach gigabit speeds using the high-frequency spectrum, including millimeter waves which start at 30GHz. The millimeter waves require line-of-sight connections, which while not needing a technician to install, and so has an ease-of-use bonus, could be a serious limiting factor in the usability of the service. Users will need a receiver placed in their window to receive Starry signals. The network uses MU-MIMO and other technology, and it will not have any data caps. Starry will have a router to sell to customers as well, but they plan on other routers being usable with the service.

If Starry works, it could accomplish what Chet Kanojia had planned to do previously with Aereo, in aiding consumers in cutting ties with “the bundle”. “This is how it should be in our opinion,” Kanojia said. “Wired infrastructure is just difficult.”

With Aereo, Kanojia was trying to free people of expensive television packages by setting up warehouses full of antennae. Aereo’s defense was that the antennae picking up television signals was no different than the rabbit ears in living rooms all over the US, but the broadcasters had other ideas. They argued that if they as cable tv providers had to pay for distributing the copyrighted programming use, then so did Aereo. In the end, the copyright battle ended when the Supreme Court agreed with the broadcasters. But will Starry get hit with the same kind of legal fight over Internet usage? While the answer is probably yes, this endeavor is less risky.