Transcelestial is on a mission to make the Internet more accessible by building a network of shoebox-sized devices, creating a fiber-like network. Today, the Singapore-based startup announced that it has raised $10 million to expand its wireless laser communications system in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States. Eventually, wireless fiber optic optics were deployed from orbit and set eyes on space.
The company’s A2 round was led by aerospace venture firm Airbus Ventures, with participation from Kickstart Ventures, Genesis Alternative Ventures, Wavemaker, CapVista and Seeds Capital. Investor In-Q-Tel was part of the previously announced round. This brings Transcelestial’s total revenue raised since its inception in 2016 to $24 million. Previous backers 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 “communication is a human right” and that improving internet connections for at least one billion people will drive all their business and technical decisions.
The two men say the current internet infrastructure is the main reason many people lack reliable internet service. Submarine cables, for example, are expensive to build and only connect two points. Terrestrial long distance networks provide good coverage for Tier 1 cities but leave out smaller towns and cities. Middle-mile and last-mile distribution is often expensive and leads to real-time issues.
A transcellular laser communication system eliminates the expensive to install and maintain underground cables and radio frequency-based equipment with their licensing regulations. As a result, Jha says Transceltal can offer a significantly lower cost per bit option. The CENTAURI, a transcellular shoebox-sized device, is already deployed in the South Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
The startup recently demonstrated its optical technology for 5G connectivity during a demonstration at the University of Technology Sydney. The next stop is space: Transceltal is working to bring the technology to the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation, with the goal of deploying wireless fiber optics directly from orbit to cities and moons.
Meanwhile, it plans to expand its early market reach beyond Asian markets in the US, where a survey by the Pew Trust found that 27 percent of rural and 2 percent urban areas lacked readily available Internet connections. . Transceltal plans to enter the US in the next 12 months, exploring partnerships with government, enterprise and telecoms. Jha said the company is already working undercover with a few ISPs and a major enterprise cloud and data center company on the West Coast.
Transceltal’s new funding will be used in part to protect the Trabit Factory, the manufacturing facility, from uncertainties in the supply chain. The facility has the capacity to produce up to 2,4000 CENTAURI devices per year, which Transcelestial says is the largest of any lasercom production facility worldwide.
In-Q-Tel Managing Director Clayton Williams said in a statement about the funding, “Transcelestial’s Laser Communications Platform CENTAURI is best-in-class 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.