Starry Falls Behind 2019 Network Buildout Goal
Fixed wireless provider Starry failed to meet its 2019 goal of expanding its service to 22 markets. The company currently offers broadband services in five cities: Denver; Los Angeles; New York; Washington, DC; and Boston.
According to Starry spokeswoman Virginia Lam, the company still plans to expand to an additional 17 markets and has a "presence" in those cities but has not launched service. Those additional cities include Chicago; Cleveland; San Francisco; Houston; Dallas; Seattle; Detroit; Atlanta; Indianapolis; Philadelphia; Miami; Memphis; Phoenix; Minneapolis; Manchester, New Hampshire; Portland, Ore.; and Sioux Falls, SD.
Lam further explained that Starry is in "active build" mode in nine markets, which means that it has leased space on towers and rooftops and is in various stages of constructing the network. In the remaining eight markets, Lam said that Starry is in the "early build" stage, which means it has some lease deals but has not started to construct the network. "It takes time," Lam added. "Every building has a different process."
Lam declined to disclose Starry's timeline for launching additional markets, citing competitive reasons.
Starry initially is targeting apartments and other multiple dwelling units with its broadband service but has said it plans to expand to individual residences and commercial customers. The company currently sells an unlimited broadband service that provides 250 Mbit/s upstream and downstream starting at $50 per month.
In an interview earlier this month at Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen Business Strategies conference, Starry COO Alex Moulle-Berteaux told Alan Breznick, Light Reading's cable/video practice leader, that the company is able to achieve a 25% penetration rate in its buildings within the first three three months offering service. He also said that on average Starry customers are using about 350 Gigabits of data per month, and about 10% of the company's user base is consuming more than a Terabyte of data per month.
New spectrum, new priorities
Starry's existing markets use shared-spectrum licenses in the 37GHz band. However, this summer Starry won 104 licenses in the 24GHz spectrum band, making it possible for the company to deploy its services in 51 additional markets in 25 states. Combined with Starry's current spectrum holdings in the 37GHz band, the company says it can cover more than 40 million households.
Lam said that the 104 licenses the company won in the FCC's 24GHz spectrum auction will have an impact on how the company prioritizes its future deployments. "People are proactively reaching out to us," she said. "There are municipalities that want to work with us."
She added that if a city is particularly motivated to work with Starry that might move it higher on the buildout schedule. "Depending upon whether it's a motivated city, it might leapfrog over another city," she said.
— Sue Marek, special to Light Reading. Follow her @suemarek.