Starry provides no-contract fixed wireless internet in just a handful of cities. Its cheap plans, free equipment, and high speeds make it a solid alternative to cable and fiber. Unfortunately, the company's financial instability makes it a poor choice for anyone with other options.
Fast, inexpensive internet with great customer service, equipment, and installation? Wow is right. This internet company is a solid choice for most people. But if you’re a heavy streamer, its cable-fiber hybrid network might not be beefy enough.
Starry’s fixed wireless plans are straightforward and attractive. There are no contracts or data caps. Equipment and installation are provided for free. Prices are subject to change, but there are no price hikes built in since the company doesn’t offer large short-term discounts to new customers like other internet service providers (ISPs) do. It is worth checking for ongoing promotions before you sign up. Starry sometimes offers deals on its plans, like 200 Mbps for $30 per month, which is an even better value than usual.
The Starry Plus plan has 200 Mbps download speeds, which gives you more than enough speed for working from home, streaming, and browsing the web on multiple devices. Starry’s prices and upload speeds tend to beat cable plans with comparable download speeds. At gigabit download speed with Starry, you get half the upload speed of comparable fiber plans, but it’s still more than enough for most people and often cheaper.
WOW! offers 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps plans at a great price, whether or not you sign up for an optional one- or two-year contract. If you don’t mind signing a contract, WOW!’s plans will cost you about 25% of the national benchmark for a similar plan (1). After that, prices transition to month-to-month rates, which are $10 to $15 higher but still well below the benchmark.
To get WOW!’s advertised prices, you need to sign up for both autopay and paperless billing (a $5 monthly savings) and commit to a two-year contract. If you’re not sure whether you want to be chained to WOW! for that long, don’t worry too much about it. If you duck out early, you’ll pay only $15 for each month left on your contract—which isn’t much more than you’d pay if you skip the contract from the start. (2)
There are data caps of either 1.5 TB or 3 TB, depending on your plan. These are pretty high, but if you’re a heavy user, you could be charged up to $50 extra every month and have your speed throttled.
Starry offers fixed wireless internet service with performance that rivals most other connection types available in the urban areas it serves. Fixed wireless is, of course, wireless. But unlike mobile internet, which allows you to access the internet wirelessly with your phone anywhere, it works by beaming the internet connection directly to equipment mounted on top of your building. Starry sets itself apart from other fixed wireless providers because it takes advantage of high-frequency spectrum, which allows it to achieve up to gigabit speeds.
Actual speeds vary based on several factors, like how many devices are being used on your network and which apps you’re using. In Q3 of 2022, Starry reported its customers had an average download speed of 196 Mbps, upload speed of 104 Mbps, and latency of 20.3 ms. (1) Speeds have slowed a little over time, but only by a matter of milliseconds.
While it’s not as good as fiber, this is more than adequate for streaming, gaming, video chats, and other intense use on multiple devices simultaneously. Since Starry’s internet service uses fixed wireless rather than a wired connection, weather can affect signal range and reliability. Some users have reported slowdowns and outages due to rain and snow. (2)
The majority of WOW!’s network is a hybrid of cable and fiber, though some customers in Alabama still have legacy DSL service. Although fiber technology can provide up to 10 Gbps and symmetrical upload and download speeds, a hybrid network can perform only as well as cable technology allows. WOW!'s speeds top out at 1.2 gigs, which is faster than most cable providers. Your max upload speed will be 50 Mbps, which is great for cable.
For most people, an asymmetrical 1.2 Gbps connection is plenty fast. But if you upload a lot of photos or videos, WOW! might not be powerful enough. You can also face throttling if you exceed your (admittedly generous) data caps. If that’s you, a fully fiber network, if available in your area, will be your best bet. You’ll probably also want to keep shopping if you can only get DSL with WOW!
All Starry internet customers get free professional installation and are provided with equipment to use at no cost while their service is active. The included ZyXEL router is functional and easy to use, but the company doesn't publicize whether you can use your own instead. Either way, there's no extra equipment cost.
Installation appointments have 30-minute arrival windows, which is respectful of customers’ time. The installation process takes 1–2 hours. The installer will activate the service, make sure it works in every room, and set up your router and devices. There is no self-installation option.
WOW! includes a free modem for your first year ($14/month after that). You can also rent a Whole Home Wi-Fi system, which includes a coveted eero base and one extender for $9.99. Additional extenders are $5.99 each, but most households won’t need more than one because eero’s that good. eero comes with an app you can use to manage your network, and you can add security services for an additional cost (under $10/month) if you want ad-blocking, malware protection, or parental controls.
A free self-startup kit is available to most new customers, but if you prefer professional installation, it’ll cost you $75. The good news is that with professional installation, WOW! waives its $10 activation fee, so it’s really just $65 more to have a technician’s help.
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Starry has a great reputation for customer service, but has recently been in the news for mass layoffs and even pulling out of one of its newest service areas—Columbus, Ohio. (3)
If you can still get Starry, you'll benefit from a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and no contracts. Starry will refund you for service interruptions that last longer than 24 hours if you request the credit within 30 days, unless the outage is because of scheduled maintenance, power outage, weather, or something else beyond the company’s control.
Customer service is impressively responsive. Support is offered by phone, email, and social media. The website offers plenty of help articles, and the app has a chatbot that can inform you of outages at your address. Starry reports it has a Net Promoter Score of 69 (excellent) while other broadband providers have an average of 0 (neutral), meaning customer satisfaction with the brand is unusually high. (4)
WOW! provides an award-winning customer experience, ranking fourth-highest in J.D. Power’s ISP Satisfaction list in the North Central US region in 2022. (3)
We should note that in 2021 WOW! sold a couple regions of its business (Evansville, IN and Chicago) to Astound broadband, so customers may see some changes in their service. That said, Astound ranks fifth on P.C. Mag's Readers' Choice awards, so you're probably in good hands. (4)