Connecting the next 4 billion: Our investment in Transcelestial

Transcelestial is aiming to deliver commercial high speed internet to everybody on earth.

A front row seat to the future

Sometimes as VCs you’re reminded of just how lucky you are to have a front row seat into the future. When Rohit and Danesh told us their aim was to connect all of humanity it was definitely one of those “wow” moments.

The Transcelestial team with SK Telecom team during deployment of one of their early trials

Fresh off Entrepreneur First in Singapore, the Transcelestial team are aiming to deliver commercial high speed internet to everybody on earth by using laser communication technology via nano-satellites. This video (at time 29:00) is a great way to see the team in action.

Backing ambitious entrepreneurs who are using innovation to redefine what’s possible

Global data transmission needs are growing exponentially. Ground to ground non-fibre transmission is suffering from network congestion and installing fibre optics and licensing spectrum is inhibitively expensive (US$50k-200k per km in dense cities).

At the moment, 95% of the world’s connectivity is powered by undersea cables, but the majority of these were deployed up to the late 2000s and in the last few years hardly any new cables have been put in as it costs hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to do so (and not even including the annual maintenance costs!).

Transcelestial’s laser communication technology changes all of that.

By using lasers to transfer and relay data for ground, satellite and deep space applications via nano-satellites, Transcelestial helps to increase connectivity speed in a much more scalable and cost effective way.

If they pull it off, this will be transformative for the 4 billion + people still without internet access… not to mention it will:

  • Be significantly less expensive (with zero spectrum costs)
  • Have more rapid deployment timelines
  • Have much higher internet speeds

Over the next three years, Transcelestial plans to develop a constellation of nano satellites for ground, satellite, and then deep space applications.

Backing a deeply technical team in an extremely large market early

We had the privilege of getting to know Rohit and Danesh before Trancelestial was even incorporated. They are a visionary team with a complementary skill-set to a problem that they understand intimately — Rohit is an Electrical Engineer with 9 years hardware and prototyping experience and a strong understanding of undersea cable infrastructure through his work in electronic markets at RBS, and Danesh has a PhD in Nano Photonics and has spent 10 years building photonics systems for Sumitomo and other large corporations.

Strong and early customer interest from SK Telecom, Facebook and others gave us the confidence that Trancelestial was really onto something meaningful, and Rohit and Danesh had the hustle and smarts to go after this ambitious opportunity.

  • SK Telecom — Transcelestial’s wireless fibre optics technology was used to upgrade the backbone internet connectivity of a major public library near Seoul, improving bandwidth speed by 20x
  • Facebook — Transcelestial is working with Facebook to produce breakthrough technologies that reimagine telecom infrastructure globally

Partnering to solve ambitious global projects with significant Australian angle

Transcelestial’s vision is to serve and connect the unconnected.

With it’s backbone challenges in rural territories, growing space agency, clear skies for satellite network testing and huge demand for connectivity (still not met by NBN and other telcos), Australia is a very strong market to bring on-board early.

We believe laser transmission is the future of connectivity globally and in Australia and we are thrilled to be backing the team to build it.

The Transcelestial team with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

If you are a founder with an ambitious vision, please send me an email or tweet me @johnhenderson … At Airtree we’re not shying away from complex technologies whether in space or other fields, and are always interested to learn more!

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