An Australian venture capital firm Airtree, one of the largest venture capital funds in Australia, has just recently announced their 2.5 million seed round investment in a Singaporean based startup Transcelestial Technologies. Airtree has backed some of the most premium startups in the last decade including market leaders such as Canva, Prospa and 90 Seconds.
Founded by Rohit Jha and Dr Mohammad Danesh in 2016, Transcelestial is building a space laser network that will use wireless laser communication and nano-satellites to deliver high speed internet, anywhere around the world. Its lasers can be mounted on nano-satellites, or structures on the ground to create a network.
“The average cost of transcontinental high bandwidth undersea cables ranges from over hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in capital expenditure, and tens of million dollars in annual maintenance. Existing wireless technologies have reached high levels of spectrum congestion leading to a limit on how much connectivity they can support,” Jha said.
In February 2017, USAID reported that over 4 billion people globally has no access to the internet. Bringing them online will be a costly undertaking. 95 percent of the world’s internet need is served by undersea cable infrastructure developed in the 1990s and 2000s. Meanwhile, according to Data Age 2025, a study by IDC and Seagate, in the next 10 years the amount of data created and consumed is expected to grow more than ten times, mostly from machine-to-machine communication such as IoT, connected vehicles, and in-game AI.
Jha explained Transcelestial’s model aims to overcome the issues associated with established models of connectivity to ensure global connectivity in the next few decades. With the funding raised last December, the startup has been put towards growing its team, along with further research and development.
Currently, Transcelestial is testing an on-ground version of their prototype wireless laser communication technology to provide state-of-the-art, fiber-like ultra-high bandwidth wireless back-haul to telecom and enterprise partners, both within Singapore and overseas.
One of the first public demonstrations of Transcelestial’s technology was a joint project with SK Telecom in South Korea and the Telecom Infra Project’s (TIP) Ecosystem Acceleration Center (TEAC) Initiative. Transcelestial’s wireless fibre optics technology was used to upgrade the backbone internet connectivity of a major public library near Seoul (South Korea), improving bandwidth by 20 times its existing speed.
Joining other prominent investors including Wavemaker Partners, which led the round, and 500 Startups; AirTree is the latest Australian VC to back a startup focused on connectivity.
Backed by Blackbird Ventures, Adelaide-founded Fleet Space Technologies is also looking to connect people: the startup aims to launch a network of more than 100 nano-satellites to create a global network enabling low-bandwidth connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.