Hundreds of megabits to apartments for a very low cost. For a decade, millions have been getting 100 megabits from fiber to the basement + VDSL on existing building wiring. Now, there's a surge of wireless to the roof, led by AT&T in Minneapolis and Webpass (bought by Google) in San Francisco. Speeds range from 200 megabits to nearly a gigabit and system latency is good. The very visible and ambitious Starry is starting to test WTTR in Boston. They are running mmWave to the rooftop for backhaul and using G.hn to reach apartments.
** Update: I had a chance to talk to CEO Chet Kanoja. They have not seen a G.hn congestion problem and he doesn't expect problems going forward. Everyone's watching for field results. They found an ODM supplier for the G.hn at the transmitter and design their own gateways. Even more interesting, they are going millimeter wave to houses and apartments in volume. He's designed a 5 gigabit mmWave transmitter built up from 802.11ac that is point to multipoint. He says his cost is $800-$1,000, which will transform the economics. It implies he will be delivering something similar to Verizon's 5G at a much lower cost. I'll remain skeptical until that's widely deployed in the field, but the details he provided were convincing. Dave **
The very visible startup has big plans to deploy more cities. For a decade, millions have been getting 100 megabits from fiber to the basement + VDSL on existing building wiring. Now, there's a surge of wireless to the roof, led by AT&T in Minneapolis and Webpass (bought by Google) in San Francisco. Speeds range from 200 megabits to nearly a gigabit and system latency is good.
Verizon is going direct to apartments with their 5G mmWave, soon to go to several hundred test homes in semi-rural Massachusetts. There is no planned fanout with DSL or G.hn. (Verizon is holding off on their original plans for 5G to parts of Boston rather than fiber.) Kanojia did a remarkably fast multi-city rollout for his previous company, Aereo. He's promising to go wide very quickly this time as well. Aereo had an innovative way to deliver free to air stations over the Internet. The stations shut it down by persuading the Supreme Court it illegally denied them royalties. That was a very anti-consumer decision.
VP Virginia Lam Abrams writes, "we can get a minimum of 500-700 Mbps, even on cat 3." That puts them far ahead of DSL except G.fast and able to compete with cable. Most of the older problems with microwave, like rain fade, have been pretty much solved. The service should be reliable with good latency.
G.hn is a simpler technology than G.fast. Korea Telecom has jumped on hard, deploying to millions and selling abroard. PLDT has picked it up in the Phillipines. Marvell has extended the G.hn home networking system to cover buildings and continues to improve the chips. The G.fast guys believe G.hn will have a problem when the networks get loaded because it doesn't do vectoring. Chano Gomez of Marvell strongly disagrees. We'll know more when we have results from the field.
Gigabit microwave for backhaul costs only $3,000 from Ubiquiti, although Starry is going with a more expensive phased array point to multipoint system. Two and five gig microwave is coming to market. That 1 gigabit of backhaul can generally deliver 500-700 megabit service to many customers surprises everyone except network engineers. The experience is that very few customers demand high speeds most of the time. Two HD TVs can be served with 10 megabits; not many homes need more than that very often. Sharing works very well.
With low backhaul costs and minimal installation, WTTR could bring down broadband costs significantly. Starry expects they will and hopes to very rapidly grow their customer count.
I hope he succeeds; the U.S. desperately needs more competition.
Important note: I have held back several points in the original article to more carefully factcheck with the company. I wanted to publish the G.hn news. There are questions to resolve about how many apartments can be reached directly with wireless, what is the network total capacity ... None of the open issues negates my conclusion "The service should be reliable with good latency."
Here's some of their earlier pr, now superseded by the current technology.
Introducing Starry - A New Technology Company Revolutionizing How We Connect to the Internet
Starry Ushers in a New Era of Broadband Connectivity, Developing and Deploying the World's First Active Phased Array Technology for Consumer Internet Communications to Launch America's Next Nationwide Fixed Wireless Broadband Provider;
Starry Unveils an End-to-End Product Ecosystem That Enables Consumers to Buy, Install and Connect to up to a Gigabit of Broadband Speed in Minutes;
Starry Launches With Backing of Premier Investors Including FirstMark Capital, Tiger Global, IAC, KKR, HLVP and Quantum Strategic Partners
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jan 27, 2016) - The team from Project Decibel, Inc., today announced the launch of Starry, Inc., a Boston- and New York-based technology company focused on revolutionizing how consumers access and connect to the internet. Starry's mission is to connect people and things, wirelessly, seamlessly and effortlessly with beautifully designed products and platforms. The company is re-imagining broadband access by developing an ecosystem of products and services designed to simplify and improve your connected life.
Starry has developed and is deploying the world's first millimeter wave band active phased array technology for consumer internet communications, using that technology as a platform for rolling out a nationwide fixed wireless broadband network capable of delivering internet speeds of up to one gigabit, wirelessly to the home. Using a self-installation system, consumers will be able to buy Starry products directly and connect to the internet in minutes, without onerous contracts, data caps or having to wait for an installer.
Additionally, the company unveiled Starry Station, the world's first ambient touchscreen Wi-Fi station, a beautifully designed smart home internet and Wi-Fi station that provides users with a window into their home's internet health and device connectivity, all through an interactive 3.8" capacitive touchscreen. Starry's launch was announced today by founder and CEO, Chaitanya "Chet" Kanojia at the Helen Mills Event Space in Manhattan.
"The future of connectivity is wireless and having simple, affordable access to an internet connection is imperative for every household and business," said Kanojia. "But, far too many people don't have a choice in how they access that connection. We set out to build an innovative alternative to wired broadband using millimeter waves and proprietary technology to deliver ultra high speed broadband to your home, wirelessly. With Starry's technology, we can deploy and scale faster than traditional wired networks -- at a fraction of the cost. This is how the networks of the future will be built around the globe."
With Starry Internet, the company is pioneering the use of millimeter waves as an alternative to fixed wireline broadband. Using the world's first millimeter wave active phased array for consumer internet communications, Starry is capable today of achieving speeds of up to a gigabit of internet service, wirelessly, with deployment costs that are a fraction of the cost of deploying traditional wired broadband.
By using OFDM modulation coupled with MIMO as a foundation, along with active phased array RF front ends, Starry's technological architecture enables it to leverage OFDM radio technology, including MU-MIMO, in a dense architecture across multiple licensed spectrum bands, including ultra high frequency millimeter waves, to deliver high speed broadband to your home or business through a self-installed home receiver. There will be absolutely no data caps with Starry Internet.
Starry Internet will launch its first beta in the Greater Boston area in the summer of 2016. Additional cities will be announced throughout the year.
With Starry Station, the company is rewriting the book on Wi-Fi routers. With its distinct design and touchscreen display, Starry makes your router the centerpiece of your home to improve RF performance and usability by providing users a window into their internet connection.
Loaded with features including Starry's internet Health Score, full internet health monitoring system and built-in persistent auto-speed test, Activity Map and Device Finder, ScreenTime parental controls, and customer support assistance available at a tap, Starry Station is 802.11ac, built with a dual radio that is 802.15 ready for future IoT features and has the ability to support a wide range of connected devices in your home or business. With Starry Station, users have the ability to understand, at a glance, how their internet and Wi-Fi connections are performing at all times.
Starry Station will retail at $349.99 and people will be able to reserve at Starry.com until February 5. After February 5, Starry Station will be available for sale on Starry.com and pre-order on Amazon.com through Amazon Launchpad (Amazon's innovative program for startups). All orders will begin shipping in March 2016.
Founded by Chet Kanojia and the elite team of engineers that helped create Aereo, Starry is backed by a group of premier investors including FirstMark Capital, Tiger Global, IAC, KKR, HLVP and Quantum Strategic Partners.
About Starry, Inc.
At Starry, Inc., we believe the future is wireless. Connecting people and things to high-speed, broadband internet should be simple, effortless and affordable. Starry is re-imagining broadband access by developing an ecosystem of products and services designed to simplify and improve your connected life. Utilizing millimeter waves as an alternative to fixed wireline broadband, Starry has developed and is deploying the world's first active phased array technology for consumer internet communications, capable of achieving speeds of up to one gigabit of internet service - wirelessly and at a fraction of the cost of traditional broadband. And, with self-installation, broadband access and expansion is simplified further for the consumer. Starry is a better, more affordable way of connecting to the internet. Based in Boston and New York City, Starry is backed by world-class investors and led by the former executives of Aereo, the groundbreaking online television platform. To learn more about Starry, visit: Starry.com.