Transceles is on a mission to make the Internet more accessible by building a network of shoebox-sized devices that send lasers at each other, creating a fiber-optic network. Today, the Singapore-based startup announced it has raised $10 million, aiming to expand its wireless laser communication system in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. Finally, it has its eyes on space and is using its wireless fiber from orbit.
The company’s A2 round was led by airline company Airbus Ventures, with participation from Kickstart Ventures, Genesis Alternative Ventures, Wavemaker, Cap Vista and Seeds Capital. Investor In-Q-Tel was part of a previously announced round. This brings Transcelestial’s total revenue since its inception in 2016 to $24 million. Some of the previous backers include EDBI, Entrepreneur First, 500 Global, SparkLabs Global Ventures, and Michael Seibel.
CEO Rohit Jha told australiabusinessblog.com that he and co-founder Mohammad Danesh believe that “connectivity is a human right” and that improving internet connections for at least a billion people is the driving force behind all their commercial and technical decisions.
The two say that the current internet infrastructure is the main reason so many people don’t have reliable internet access. Submarine cables, for example, are expensive to build and only connect two points. Long-distance terrestrial networks give Tier 1 cities good coverage, but leave smaller towns and villages behind. Middle-mile and last-mile distribution is often costly and encounters priority issues.
Transcelestial’s laser communications systems eliminate underground cables, which are expensive to install and maintain, and radio frequency-based devices, with their complex spectrum of licensing requirements. 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 Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
The startup recently proved it’s laser technology can provide 5G connectivity during a demonstration at the University of Technology Sydney. Next stop is space: Transcelestial is working to take its technology to a low-earth orbit (LEO) constellation, aiming to deploy its wireless fiber from orbit directly into cities and downs.
In the meantime, it plans to expand beyond its markets in Asia and begin expanding early market access in the US, where research by the Pew Trust found that 27% of people in rural areas and 2% of people in cities did not have readily available internet connections. Transcelestial plans to enter the US by exploring partnerships with government, industry and telecom over the next 12 months. Jha said the company is already secretly working with a few ISPs and a large enterprise cloud and data center company on the west coast.
A portion of Transcelestial’s new financing will be used to prepare Terabit Factory, its manufacturing facility, for supply chain uncertainties. The facility has the capacity to produce up to 2,4000 CENTAURI devices per year, which Trancelestial says is the largest deployment volume of any lasercomm manufacturer worldwide.
In a statement on the funding, Clayton Williams, CEO of In-Q-Tel, said: “Transcelestial’s laser communications platform CENTAURI is a best-in-class 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.”