Fierce 15 2016: Starry looking to offer 'full stack' wireless web

Editor's note: Welcome to the 2016 Fierce 15, an annual list that recognizes 15 of the most interesting startups in the wireless industry. We'll publish one profile a day for 15 days; Starry is the first company to be recognized this year.

Company: Starry
Where it's based: Boston and New York City
When it was founded: 2015

Why it's Fierce: Starry is working to offer “full stack” internet, explained Virginia Lam Abrams, the company’s SVP of communications and government relations.

“Starry’s ambition is to be able to connect billions of people around the world to super-fast internet connectivity by supporting wireless broadband, and we’re doing that by developing the entire technology stack,” she said. “So that’s everything from the city-level metro node to the end point in the consumer’s home, which is the Starry Station. We’ve built the entire stack from the metro node to the sub node – that’s either on an apartment building or, if you’re in a single family home, that’s outside your window -- to actually what’s sitting in your living room, which is the Starry Station Wi-Fi Hub.”

Starry is already selling its Station Wi-Fi hub, and the company hopes to begin offering commercial internet service in Boston later this year. The company’s wireless system will run in the 37-40 GHz band and will relay internet signals to subscribers using non-line-of-sight wireless technology – essentially the same technology and spectrum that companies ranging from Verizon to AT&T are hoping to employ in the fixed version of the upcoming 5G network standard.

“We’re talking about leading edge technology,” Abrams said. “The traditional way of connecting fiber to the home today, broadband to the home, you’re digging up streets, you’re digging up sidewalks – there’s a massive capital cost, time and capital cost to that. So being able to reach the home with that last mile and do it wirelessly really is a massive cost savings.”

The 85-person company has not disclosed how much venture capital it has raised so far, but investors include First Mark Capital, KKR, Highline Venture partners and others.

But what really sets Starry apart is the company’s CEO Chet Kanojia. Kanojia also founded Aereo, which tried to disrupt the TV/video industry but ended up in bankruptcy. Now Kanojia hopes to upend the ISP market with Wi-Fi and millimeter wave technology to deliver a fixed wireless solution to homes in cities across the country.

What's next: Abrams said Starry plans to launch commercial Starry service later this year. “Hopefully by this time next year we’ll have additional cities online,” she said.

Read more: FierceWireless's Fierce 15 2016