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Tech Review: Starry Internet Service Provider (2023)

You probably are (or were) familiar with Time Warner Cable, right? The old joke is that so many customers thought their service was so awful, the company needed to rebrand as Spectrum.

We had Spectrum during that changeover. The service was okay but certainly not great. We tolerated some outages and attempts to nickel and dime us along the way. When they started charging a modem rental, we bought our own equipment. Eventually, they did away with the rental charge and added a wifi charge instead. That’s right - your monthly bill becomes higher than the promotional price if you want to use wifi at home. Forget that.

Enter Starry. If you’re vaguely familiar with the service, this company was founded in 2016. The gist is that it transmits 5G internet service from taller, “base station” buildings to lower/smaller buildings, especially apartments. As a smaller-scale operation, that means it makes the most sense to offer the service in only the biggest cities and in multi-unit structures, where the signal can be distributed.

Starry Internet work van

In 2021, we started seeing flyers in our building, advertising a locked-in, all-in price of $30 for 100 Mbps internet or not-locked-in $50 for 200 Mbps, plus no fees for the modem or wifi. Either way, not bad - adios, Spectrum!

The connection started out strong, but then the reliability started to taper off. There was the occasional outage, just like with Spectrum, but things started to get really weird. A few months ago, I was on a virtual work meeting, reviewing video, and the signal kept cutting out. When the feed would drop, I refreshed the browser, picture would come back, then it would drop again. During this hour-long meeting, the connection dropped probably 30 times. A Starry tech was able to come by a couple days later, swapped out the modem, and all seemed fine again… for a couple months.

Starry Internet 5G receiver - photo by KilmerMedia

That same issue (disconnects every ~20 sec.) recently started up again and, just as before, it took a couple days before a tech could stop by. In the interim, I found and installed the “Internet Connection Monitor” plug-in on Chrome. In all, the program logged 1,049 disconnects throughout the first, full day, adding up to over 3 hours of downtime! That, of course, makes using the internet almost impossible.

Starry Internet disconnection stats

On the maintenance day, the tech showed up around 9:30 AM, replaced the modem, and said if this happens again, they might need to update the wires in the building. Those are apparently old and are networked with other units that use a combination of Starry and other services. “Next time” is today. The problem isn’t fixed. At first, the connection seemed fine but, for some mysterious reason, the daily problem has been ramping up in the 11 AM hour and tapering off at night.

After looking around on Reddit and Twitter, I understand this particular, constant disconnect/reconnect cycle might be an unusual issue. The Customer Service team have only been courteous, but what we need more is reliability, and months ago. We must be very patient people… before this instance, we last dealt with Customer Support in May, plus April, March, February, December, November, and it extends even further back. The sign below has been up for months, but when will the connection be fixed?

Starry Internet "your building is being upgraded" sign on an equipment rack - photo by KilmerMedia

It should be noted, as well, that back in February this year, Starry filed for bankruptcy protection. Just like when Twitter scaled down its resources, the quality of the service seems to have taken a big hit.

If you’re considering trying out Starry Internet, this shouldn’t be the one, definitive review that helps you make up your mind…. just know this particular journey hasn’t been fun, and the expense of $30 really becomes so much more than that if you need to call or email Customer Support every month or two. I could post a referral code that would benefit us both, but I won't point you in that direction. Instead, caveat emptor.


"Tech Review: Starry Internet Service Provider"

Written by Justin Kilmer, reviewed in 2023

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