Singapore-based Transcelestial uses lasers to build affordable internet networks • TechCrunch

Transcelestial team members installing the CENTAURI device in a building

Transcelestial team members installing the CENTAURI device in a building

Transcelestial’s mission is to make the internet more accessible by building a network of shoebox-sized devices that beam lasers at each other, creating a fiber-like network. Today, the Singapore-based startup announced it has raised $10 million, aiming to expand its wireless laser communication system in Indonesia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. Eventually, he’s set his sights on space, deploying his wireless fiber optics from orbit.

The company’s A2 round was led by aerospace venture firm Airbus Ventures, with participation from Kickstart Ventures, Genesis Alternative Ventures, Wavemaker, Cap Vista and Seeds Capital, along with return investor In-Q-Tel. This brings the total raised by Transcelestial since it was founded in 2016 to $24 million. Some of its past sponsors include EDBI, Entrepreneur First, 500 Global, SparkLabs Global Ventures and Michael Seibel.

CEO Rohit Jha told TechCrunch that he and co-founder Mohammad Danesh believe “connectivity is a human right” and improving internet connections for at least a billion people drives all of their business and technical decisions.

The two say that the current infrastructure of the Internet is the main reason why so many people do not have reliable access to the Internet. Submarine cables, for example, are expensive to build and connect only two points. Long-distance terrestrial networks provide good coverage for Tier 1 cities, but leave smaller cities and towns behind. Half-mile and last-mile distribution is often expensive and presents right-of-way issues.

Transcelestial’s laser communication systems eliminate underground cables, which are expensive to install and maintain, and RF-based devices, with their complicated spectrum licensing regulations. As a result, Jha said Transcelestial can offer a significantly lower cost-per-bit option. Transcelestial’s shoebox-sized devices, called CENTAURI, have already been deployed in South and Southeast Asian markets.

A CENTAURI installation

A CENTAURI installation

The startup recently proved that its laser technology can provide 5G connectivity during a demonstration at the University of Technology Sydney. Its next stop is space: Transcelestial is working to bring its technology into a low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation, with the goal of deploying its wireless fiber optics from orbit directly to cities and lowlands.

Meanwhile, it plans to move beyond its markets in Asia and begin expanding early market access in the United States, where a Pew Trust survey found that 27% of people in rural areas and 2% of people in cities lacked internet connections. internet readily available. . Transcelestial plans to enter the US exploring collaborations with government, business and telecommunications within the next 12 months. Jha said the company is already working stealthily with a few ISPs and a large enterprise cloud and data center company on the West Coast.

Part of Transcelestial’s new funding will be used to prepare the Terabit Factory, its production facility, against supply chain uncertainty. The facility has the capacity to manufacture up to 2,4000 CENTAURI devices annually, which Trancelestial says is the largest deployment volume of any lasercomms producer globally.

In a statement on the funding, In-Q-Tel Managing Director Clayton Williams said, “Transcelestial’s laser communications platform, CENTAURI, is the best solution for low-cost, high-bandwidth terrestrial communications. . We are excited to help expand this capability to enable space-based data backhaul for secure point-to-point communications from the US and anywhere on Earth.”

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