Veniam Picks Up $4.9M To Turn Buses Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

Veniam, a company that leverages moving vehicles to bring more complete wireless Internet to municipalities, today announced that it has raised a $4.9 million Series A round of funding led by True Ventures, and participated in by Union Square Ventures. The company told TechCrunch that its prior angel investors also took part in the deal on a pro-rata basis, keeping their percentages in the firm whole.

The company’s technology has so far been best demonstrated in Porto, Portugal, where the firm has installed its hardware onto the public bus system, bringing wireless connectivity to the general population. Some 50,000 citizens in the city use the technology, out of a population of what the firm described as 350,000. Of smartphone-owning bus takers, according to Veniam, it has nearly 75 percent penetration.

In short, Veniam wants to turn fleets of vehicles, public or private, into live networks, that both bring folks online without being dependent on cellular networks. It also wants to use its network to collect reams of data. That data may itself be a greater opportunity for the firm — imagine being able to track every bus and municipal vehicle at all times, keeping tabs on traffic information, and so forth.

The company intends to use its new cash to expand its operations inside of the United States. It also has a cute name for its market niche: The “Internet of Moving Things.” You want to pat the person who thought of that on the head.

Veniam told TechCrunch that its new capital will carry it around 18 months, noting that its spend rate is lower than it might be, since it has some of its core operations in Europe, where developer talent is less expensive. The company also has offices in Mountain View, Calif.

The firm is working to bring a more pervasive Internet to the world, which is something that we need. Cellular signals remain weak, spotty, and expensive. The potential to better connect ourselves is one that I welcome.

So how about this, as a deal, Veniam: You bring Wi-Fi to Caltrain, and I will throw money at you. Seems fair.