fixed wireless tower

The argument could be made that fixed wireless provider Starry owes its success to technology developed in-house. The company developed the equipment that underlies and differentiates its fixed wireless service. And the company’s Upload Boost offering, announced Thursday, also was developed in-house – an approach that again seems to differentiate the offering.

Upload Boost, which is being made available on a trial basis, allows customers to increase their dedicated upload capacity to symmetrical speeds “with just one click,” according to a press release. The price starts at $5, depending on the speed tier, and customers can remove the plan at any time.

“Upload Boost is our first step in giving customers the ability to upsize their upload capacity to meet their usage needs,” said Alex Moulle-Berteaux, Starry chief operating officer, in the press release.

“If you’re working from home and having to deal with moving large documents all day, or if you spend the majority of your time on video calls, you understand the need to have robust capacity. . . The flip side of that is, if you don’t have the need for additional upload capacity, we’re not going to force it on you and increase your monthly fees. This level of customization, flexibility and control is what customers crave [and is] the next step in personalizing our internet service.”

Starry said it will “continue to test out price points during the trial.”

Starry CEO Chet Kanojia hinted at plans for Upload Boost at an investor conference in June.

“We will continue to push the boundary of standing apart from the conventional crowd,” Kanojia said about those plans at the time.

At the same conference, he explained how the equipment underlying Starry’s fixed wireless service is different from what other fixed wireless providers use.

For example, it can use coaxial distribution infrastructure within a building to distribute service – an approach that has enabled the company to pick up a lot of business from people living in multi-dwelling units who have purchased Starry service to replace cable.

The In-House Approach

There was a time when it was quite common for communications service providers to develop equipment and technology in house, but with few exceptions, the major carriers have largely outsourced that function today.

There are a few challenger companies like Starry, though, that have used the approach of acting as both technology developer and service provider. Another notable example that comes to mind is Rakuten, which has pioneered O-RAN technology and uses the technology in its own network.

It’s easy to understand why so many service providers rely on other companies to develop the technology underlying their networks. It may be more economical for many of them, and they may feel they have sufficient influence over vendors to get the capabilities they need built into the products. In some cases, they may even be able to get certain features from the vendor on an exclusive or semi-exclusive basis.

The counter argument is that it’s faster and more efficient to do things in house. And for a smaller provider like Starry it may be the only way to make the company’s vision a reality.

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