Starry plans exit from Ohio market

Starry announced on Tuesday that it’s leaving the Columbus, Ohio, market after terminating a strategic alliance agreement with its local partner, AEP Ventures. Starry said the termination was mutual.

Columbus marked Starry’s sixth market when it announced plans to launch there in 2021. It was also considered a “huge step” for the company as it expanded the types of structures it was targeting. Up until then, it was focused on multi-dwelling units (MDUs), but new equipment allowed it to expand to single-family and other types of homes.

Starry built its fixed wireless network to cover more than 350,000 homes in Columbus.

But its decision to leave the market is part of the company’s broader reorganization. It will focus resources on its five core urban markets: Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver and Washington, D.C.

“Leaving the Columbus market was a difficult decision and one that we did not take lightly,” said Starry CEO Chet Kanojia in a statement. “Every community deserves robust competition and choice among broadband providers and Starry’s goal was to bring a high-quality, affordable option to families across Columbus.”

While he’s proud of the impact Starry made in neighborhoods across Columbus, “our business is evolving, and given the challenging macroeconomic environment, we’ve had to make some hard choices,” he said. “The decision to leave Columbus gives us the ability to continue to invest in our five core urban markets and further expand our footprint and customer base within those communities.”

Starry said its decommissioning of the market will begin in March and be completed in June. Current Starry subscribers will receive notification of their planned service cancelation and be provided opportunities to switch to other broadband providers in the area.

The past year has been particularly rough for Starry. It became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in March after completing a merger with special purpose acquisition company FirstMark Horizon Acquisition.  

But the company ran into trouble, quickly burning through cash to build its network. In October Starry laid off half of its workforce, or 508 employees, and ceased expansion into new markets. By November, Starry was looking for a buyer or other “balance sheet solution.”