Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Starry-Eyed Ambition in Boston

Welcome to Friday and your weekly edition of Gigabites. Today, Aereo founder Chet Kanojia plans nationwide gigabit wireless service under the name Starry Internet, Mozilla makes ready to fund new gigabit application projects in Kansas City and Chattanooga, the FCC makes waves with the 2015 Broadband Progress report and more.

  • Go big or go home. That seems to be the motto of Chet Kanojia, who is now planning to launch a gigabit wireless service starting in Boston this summer. Kanojia, who also tried to upend the television industry with his short-lived company Aereo, announced a new enterprise this week called Starry Inc.

    There are two parts to Starry. One is the Starry Station, a fancy retail WiFi router priced at $350 that includes an interactive touchscreen and simplified network configuration features. The second is Starry Internet, and that's where Kanojia's new venture gets interesting.

    Starry says its Internet service will be the first to use "millimeter wave active phased array" technology for consumer communications. Current mobile industry plans also call for 5G to use millimeter wave, but in a different slice of spectrum. The designation of millimeter wave simply refers to the use of high-frequency spectrum bands. (See Spectrum Uncertainty Hinders 5G Research.)

    According to Starry, its Internet service will offer wireless speeds up to a gigabit and be much cheaper to deploy than wired broadband. However, the company has to prove that the technology works and that it can scale in real-world conditions. Plus, Starry is sure to run into entrenched telecom interests in much the same way that Kanojia butted up against broadcasters with Aereo. Presumably there won't be copyright issues this time around, but it's likely the big Internet providers won't look kindly on Starry's work either.

  • Want to learn more about gigabit broadband? Join us for Light Reading's second annual Gigabit Cities Live event taking place this year on April 5 in Charlotte, NC.

  • Back on the ground, work continues to progress on a federal government initiative to accelerate gigabit application development. At a DC event hosted by US Ignite this week, Mozilla announced – in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and US Ignite -- that it has opened up the application process for its Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund for 2016. Winning applicants will receive the funds to pursue projects in either Kansas City or Chattanooga, Tennessee that leverage the power of gigabit networks. Mozilla has $300,000 that it plans to award. (See also White House Lines Up Broadband Playbook .)

  • Washington DC was the site of much broadband activity this week. Two days after the US Ignite event, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the 2015 Broadband Progress Report, stating that the US has not made sufficient progress in raising broadband availability. The two Republicans on the Commission dissented from the Democratic majority, with Commissioner Michael O'Rielly saying the US has made plenty of progress, and Commissioner Ajit Pai saying that the US needs to make more progress but that more regulation is not the way to speed up investment.

    Perhaps ironically, the FCC's internal argument centers partly on the agency's definition of broadband, which is 25 Mbits/s downstream and 3 Mbits/s upstream. That's nowhere near the gigabit speeds that the industry is hyping (and in some cases deploying) today. (See FCC Still Bemoans Rural Broadband Gap.)

  • Speaking of gigabit deployments, Google Fiber Inc. has reportedly started construction in Charlotte, NC for the gigabit service it has planned for that city. Still no word on when service will launch, but the company has already applied for 72 right-of-way permits to install fiber and fiber network huts.

    Of note, Charlotte is also the site of Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event this spring. Both the CIO of Charlotte and Google Fiber's Michael Slinger, director of the Fiber Cities Team, are among the keynote speakers lined up for that April 5 event.

    — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

  • thebulk 2/2/2016 | 12:59:43 AM
    Re: Starry starry night Yeah, turnes out it was a Schrödinger's Loophole ;-)
    Mitch Wagner 2/1/2016 | 10:25:18 AM
    Re: Starry starry night Same here. I found Aereo exciting. 

    In retrospect it was doomed. It was clearly a Rube Goldberg contraption designed to take advantage of a perceived loophole in copyright regulations. Turned out the loophole wasn't there. 
    thebulk 1/31/2016 | 2:19:33 PM
    Re: Starry starry night @Mitch, 


    I was very excited for Aereo when they first came around, sadely it did not last. 
    Mitch Wagner 1/29/2016 | 7:46:17 PM
    Starry starry night Presumably Starry won't run into the legal quagmire that Aereo did. Much as I am sympathetic to Aereo's goals, it was clearly an intricate technological infrastructure designed to thread a perceived loophole in copyright law. Starry depends more on authentic technology innovation. 

    OTOH, I wouldn't be surprised to see incumbents try to harness regulatory agencies to block Starry if it gets traction. Because that's what incumbents do.

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