Starry raises $100M for 802.11-based fixed wireless rollout

Starry raised a series C round of funding totaling $100 million, according to an SEC filing by the company reported by Light Reading. Although the company reportedly declined to discuss its plans for the funds, it announced earlier this year it will commercially launch its fixed wireless service across 16 major U.S. markets in 2018.

Light Reading noted that the money raises Starry's total fundraising war chest to roughly $163 million. Starry investors including FirstMark Capital, IAC, Tiger Global, KKR, HLVP and Quantum Strategic Partners participated in the company’s latest round.

Starry hopes to challenge existing, in-home, wired internet suppliers in downtown areas with its 200 Mbps fixed wireless service, which it is selling for $50 per month. Starry’s proprietary, active phased array technology is based on the IEEE’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard and works in the licensed 37.0-38.6 GHz band in all of its chosen markets.

Starry’s 802.11ax-based fixed wireless service is more economically effective than a fixed wireless service based on the 5G standard, according to Wall Street research firm Oppenheimer. However, Starry’s latest round of funding is nowhere near enough money for the company to go widescale with its technology; Oppenheimer said that, by its calculations, it will cost Starry around $2 billion to cover 70% of the dense areas in the United States with its fixed wireless service. (Though the firm noted that covering that same area would cost $35 billion to $50 billion using 5G technology.)

Starry CEO Chet Kanojia is one of FierceWireless’ rising stars for 2018.

Starry joins a large and growing number of companies targeting the market for fixed wireless services. For example, Verizon plans to launch 5G fixed wireless services, offering speeds of 1 Gbps, in four U.S. cities this year. And C Spire recently embarked on a rollout of 802.11-based fixed wireless services in unlicensed spectrum.

Moreover, Sprint and T-Mobile have said that they will offer in-home wireless services to roughly 9.5 million American households by 2024, or about 13% of the country, if their proposed merger is approved.