Space

Singapore-based Transcelestial uses lasers to build affordable internet networks

Comment

 

Transcelestial team members installing CENTAURI device on a building
Image Credits: Transcelestial

Transcelestial is on a mission to make the internet more accessible by building a network of shoebox-sized devices that send lasers to one another, creating a fiber-like network. Today, the Singaporean-based startup announced it has raised $10 million, with the goal of expanding its wireless laser communications system in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. Eventually, it has its eyes on space, deploying its 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. Investor In-Q-Tel was part of a previously disclosed round. This brings Transcelestial’s total raised since it was founded in 2016 to $24 million. Some of its 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 “connectivity is a human right” and improving internet connections for at least a billion people drives all their commercial and technical decisions.

The two say current internet infrastructure is the main reason so many people lack reliable internet access. Undersea cables, for example, are expensive to build and only link two points. Terrestrial long-haul networks give Tier 1 cities good coverage but leave smaller cities and towns behind. Middle-mile and last-mile distribution is often costly and runs into right-of-way issues.

Transcelestial’s laser communications systems do away with underground cables, which are expensive to install and maintain, and radio-frequency-based devices, with their complicated spectrum of 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 Asian and Southeast Asian markets.

A CENTAURI installation
A CENTAURI installation. Image Credits: Transcelestial

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

In the meantime, it’s planning to move beyond its markets in Asia and start expanding early market access in the U.S., where research by the Pew Trust found that 27% of people in rural areas and 2% of those in cities lacked readily available internet connections. Transcelestial plans to enter the U.S. by exploring collaborations with the government, enterprise and telecoms over the next 12 months. Jha said the company is already working under stealth with a few ISPs and a major enterprise cloud and data center company on the West Coast.

Part of Transcelestial’s new funding will be used to prepare Terabit Factory, its production facility, against uncertainties in the supply chain. The facility has the capacity to manufacture up to 2,400 CENTAURI devices annually, which Trancelestial says is the largest deployment volume of any laser comms producer globally.

In a statement about the funding, In-Q-Tel managing director Clayton Williams 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 a space-based data backhaul for secure point-to-point communications from the U.S. and anywhere on earth.”

A VC’s perspective on deep tech fundraising in Q1 2023

More TechCrunch

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

22 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

23 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck