Until Tuesday, Santa Monicans had only two internet providers to choose from but a new company is offering service to some who want to divest from the phone or cable company.
Starry offers residents an alternative to Spectrum and Frontier Communications, the only two high-speed internet providers operating in the city.
Starry customers pay $50 each month for up to 200 mbps. Spectrum offers standalone internet for $44.99 per month, with starting speeds of 100 megabits per second. The highest-speed Frontier plan maxes out at 18 mbps for $30 per month.
Gary Carter, communication broadband manager for the City of Santa Monica, said he thinks Starry will make the market for internet providers more competitive.
“I hope their option will offer a quality product residents can make use of,” he said. “If they do a great job, I think they’ll see an appetite for their services.”
Starry launched in Boston in 2016 and has expanded in the last year to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. after raising $163 million in funding. The startup is planning to set up shop in about a dozen other cities, including New York and Chicago.
The company delivers internet services via wireless rooftop connections. A Starry Beam is installed on a tall building, which connects to a Starry Point installed on each building it reaches. Starry has installed a Beam on a building on Wilshire Boulevard in Downtown Santa Monica and can reach Points up to two kilometers away, said David Monteirth, the general manager for the company’s Los Angeles market.
Customers access the internet from a Starry Station inside their homes, a small, triangular device that functions as a modem. It features a touchscreen customers can use to check their internet speed, schedule a call from support staff and set parental controls, such as offline hours and a content safe mode, on specific devices.
“We can connect to it and monitor it to make sure everything is working properly,” Monteirth said. “In any service call, we know exactly what’s going on in the network.”
So far, the company has targeted apartment buildings, and its website provides a form for tenants to email their property managers about allowing Starry to install equipment. The company plans to expand to single-family homes as its technology evolves.
Monteirth said property managers and owners have responded well to the service because Starry can reach a full building of tenants in less than a day by setting a Point on the roof and connecting to the building’s existing internal wiring. Other providers usually have to put up multiple antennas to serve each tenant and run new wires through the building.
“It’s a real benefit to property owners because they can put an antenna on the roof to serve the whole building and don’t have to rewire to get 200 mbps to each customer,” he said.
For more information, visit https://starry.com/internet