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Starry, Marvell see a Wi-Fi onramp to your 5G future

The two companies will offer a blueprint for combining 5G and the latest Wi-Fi technologies. The result could be cheaper broadband.

Starry and Marvell want to make 5G affordable for all. 

The two companies have entered a partnership to offer internet service providers a reference design that combines Starry's wireless broadband technology with Marvell's expertise in next-generation Wi-Fi known as 802.11ax, according to a statement released Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


A Starry wireless router

Boston Globe/Getty Images

Starry's technology, which was unveiled two years ago, uses millimeter waves to create wireless connections delivering gigabit-speed internet connections. The company already delivers low-cost broadband service in Boston, where it's headquartered, and plans to expand the service to other cities like Washington and Los Angeles. 

The partnership with Marvell, which makes 802.11ax chips, will offer a blueprint to ISPs trying to build networks to compete against big broadband companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. The new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard offers internet speeds that are four to 10 times faster than existing Wi-Fi.  

The result for consumers: could be more choices for broadband at lower prices. This is a big deal in the US, where many Americans only have one or two choices for broadband service. In other parts of the world, as well as some rural areas of the US, the technology could mean the first high-speed broadband deployments.

Chet Kanojia, CEO and co-founder of Starry, called the partnership a "win-win" for broadband competitors and consumers.

"When we started Starry, our goal from the beginning was to drive down the cost of deploying broadband," he said in a statement. "The barrier to entry in the market today – whether domestic or global – is cost. That's why you see so few people willing to challenge incumbent monopolies."

Starry says its network currently passes more than 240,000 homes in the Boston area, though it hasn't disclosed how many of those homes are actual customers. The company, which released its Starry Wi-Fi router in 2016, has raised $94 million in funding.

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