Bye, cable: Starry’s bringing its 5G broadband to Denver

by Brian Nordli
April 26, 2019
Image via Starry

Anyone who has ever tried to pick a movie on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime knows one thing to be true about the internet: It’s loaded with choices.

Except when it comes to internet providers.

In fact, more than half of all households in America are trapped with only one high speed internet provider option, according to the FCC. As a result, prices can often exceed $80 for high-speed internet, placing the U.S. among the worst in the world in average price for internet. 

Starry wants to change that with its 5G-based internet option for home users. The Boston-based company announced on Monday that it has hooked Denver up with its 5G internet service capabilities, following launches in cities including Los Angeles, Boston, New York City and Washington D.C.

[Denver] is a fantastic city that has not had a ton of broadband competition.”

“[Denver] is a fantastic city that has not had a ton of broadband competition,” said Virginia Lam Abrams, Senior VP for Communications and Government at Starry. “It’s a market that’s ripe to come in. It’s a very tech-forward city, and a young city.”

The addition gives Denver residents another choice of internet service provider beyond Comcast and Centurylink. It will also aim to boost internet speeds for the city, which ranks 14th nationally


But what is 5G internet?

The term 5G simply indicates that a network belongs to the next generation of wireless internet. While there are companies developing a mobile network fifth-generation service, Starry’s service is focused on a new type of fixed, last-mile wireless broadband connection.

Rather than going through the expensive process of laying fiber cables around a city to bring its service to neighborhoods, Starry beams millimeter-wavelength signals into receivers mounted on homes and buildings.  

starry internet
Image via starry.

To do so, the company sets up a base station in a city and connects it to about 12 different antennas mounted on radio towers and skyscrapers to create a network zone. Those antennas then transmit the network to receivers posted on top of buildings. From there, the receivers use the existing cable wires in the building to transmit the internet into a Starry router hooked up inside the customer’s home or office.

Starry’s service can reach up to 200 mbps of internet speed at $50 a month. Its routers include a touch screen where customers can control screen time, access customer service and see what devices are on their home network. Abrams said the company works with building managers and owners to set up those final receivers.

Starry first launched in beta in Boston in 2016. Since then, the company’s coverage and size have grown exponentially. The service is now in 1.5 million households, and the company is working to bring Starry to 17 more cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas and more. 

“The promise of 5G is really the fact that new networks are going to emerge and competition is going to emerge,” Abrams said. “Customers can make smart choices about who their providers are, instead of just being locked into one.”

On Thursday, TechCrunch reported that Starry has raised a Series D funding round, but the company has disputed the reported funding amount and valuation. Built In has not been able to confirm either number.

The company is headquartered in Boston, with offices in Denver and New York. They now employ more than 500 people and are hiring for nearly every position, Abrams said.

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