Transcelestial improving internet connectivity through lasercomms
- Singapore-based Transcelestial has produced a solution for faster global internet distribution by leveraging its proprietary wireless laser communication technology to create a wireless distribution network.
- With the technology promising better and cheaper internet connectivity, Transcelestial recently received a US$10M boost to power Asia and US’s internet infrastructure with lasers.
- By bringing affordable, high-speed internet to everyone everywhere, especially those in rural areas, people can find new ways to earn a living, get educated, and get timely access to healthcare.
An alternative to satellite-based internet is also slowly gaining interest among governments and enterprises today. Singapore-based Transcelestial has produced a solution for faster global internet distribution by leveraging its proprietary wireless laser communication (lasercomms) technology to create a wireless distribution network.
Its device, CENTAURI, delivers high-speed internet and connectivity via laser beam, eliminating the need for underground cables or radio frequency-based devices. Its technology can connect a few buildings in less than a day. Not only are these laser links easy to set up, but they can also withstand tough weather conditions.
With the technology promising better and cheaper internet connectivity, Transcelestial recently received a US$10M boost to power Asia and US’s internet infrastructure with lasers. Airbus Ventures led the A2 investment round with participation from Kickstart Ventures, Genesis Alternative Ventures, Wavemaker, Cap Vista and SEEDS Captial. In-Q-Tel, had already joined in a previous, undisclosed round.
According to Rohit Jha, CEO and Co-Founder of Transcelestial, the latest injection of US$10M will place lasercomms widely in the hands of five key markets in Southeast and India, supported by its Singapore-based Terabit Factory. The use of funds will also enable Transcelestial to expand early market access to the US to address the urgent digital divide in broadband.
“Fast and affordable internet can be a matter of livelihood. We’ve transformed this for entire groups of people across some of Asia’s most dense urban and island environments. A great case study in 2022 was the urgent connectivity to a group of islands in Malaysia we provided, which allowed for dozens of villages downstream to live stream the FIFA World Cup, and use it also for education, healthcare and financial transformation! Now, more than ever, we see a similar urgency to respond to the digital divide in the US, especially for broadband,” commented Jha.
But what really makes the technology different? Tech Wire Asia caught up with Jha to understand more about lasercomms technology and its capabilities.
How different is lasercomms compared to satellite-based internet, like those offered by Starlink?
Transcelestial’s lasercomms technology is capable of both terrestrial (on-the-ground use cases on earth) and we have our eyes on LEO (lower earth orbit) applications too.
With our terrestrial CENTAURI devices, we offer a significantly lower cost-per-bit option – a wireless laser with fiber-like performance that addresses the last-mile urban connectivity challenge.
Our technology has been deployed across various markets in South and Southeast Asia where most households reside within just 1-2km proximity of the nearest fiber optic line and yet have been experiencing poor connectivity for years. These are quick solutions to get neighboring communities lit up.
For intercity and eventually intercontinental hurdles, we are bringing this technology to a low-earth-orbit (LEO) constellation run and operated by Transcelestial. This will mean Wireless Fiber Optics can be dropped from orbit directly into towns and cities, powering the internet for entire populations with an opportunity to scale up to meet demands for decades – at record low cost per bit from any space platform ever!
Consider the graph below – because of spectrum limitations in countries and the limited physical capacity of RF technology, Starlink and all current LEO approaches will do very well in population group A. But we are building technologies for the bulk of people of the world – their data needs are doubling every year! They need an optical connection to really carry that data expansion in the next few decades i.e. population groups B and C.
But this challenge isn’t specific to our region, emerging countries, or rural environments – even though these are spaces where the problem is most pronounced. It’s one that still sits at the heart of some of the most developed nations in the world. It’s why we’re expanding early access to the US – a market where the gap for broadband infrastructure has resulted in urgent national calls for solutions to bring high-speed connectivity. Today we are already working under stealth with a few ISPs and a major enterprise cloud/data center company on the West Coast. In the next few months, we expect to establish a local team and a network of Partners to help scale up our presence and support for Telcos, ISPs and Enterprises in certain select states in the US.
Today, Transcelestial is the only provider of laser communication terminals with the largest production capability via our Terabit Factory.
Can wireless laser communications also enable enterprise use cases like the transfer of data and cloud services?
Yes, this is a use case we’ve already deployed. You can find more details of how we’ve rolled this out in a campus setting and at the Hong Kong International Terminal seaport. One great case study from last year: we provided urgent connectivity to a group of islands in Malaysia, which allowed dozens of villages downstream to live stream the FIFA World Cup!
Our early clients in telecom, ISP and enterprise industries continue to deepen their purchases and commitment to our technology and products in almost all countries in APAC and US.
We have extensive deployments of our CENTAURI devices across Asia-Pacific in industries as diverse as defense, towers, education, airports, maritime ports, manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as our core clientele – telecoms and ISPs.
Our solution is fairly industry agnostic, and we increasingly see interest in applications for new sectors. This is because laser communications plug a gap that other connectivity solutions cannot.
With our CENTAURIs, you can essentially connect a few buildings in less than a day. Not only are the laser links easy to set up, but they can also withstand tough weather conditions like humidity and rain. By bringing affordable, high-speed internet to everyone everywhere, especially those in rural areas, people can find new ways to earn a living, get educated, and get timely access to healthcare.
We’ve also made sure that deploying our technology is simple – our CENTAURI devices are lightweight <3Kg and the size of a shoebox. The device also has a user-friendly graphical interface, so it’s easy to align the laser beams. In fact, some of our client deployments have had links installed and aligned in half a day.
Now, compare that with laying fiber cables. It’s significantly more expensive and can take months to get to market. Much more needs to be done, from getting approvals to lay the cable underground to the physical effort to dig trenches, and that’s all before factoring in future maintenance.
Lastly, how secure is this network? Can cybercriminals penetrate it?
The security of lasercomms is inherent to the technology itself. The extremely narrow beams of laser communication (in millidegrees) create a spillover zone of less than a meter at the destination. Any attempt to intercept communication within this zone would be immediately visible and trigger alarms. Furthermore, even if an interception attempt is made in the spillover zone, the interceptor would need to be parallel to the laser source with millidegree precision in order to receive enough light through the receptor, which is challenging due to the vibrations that affect the laser source.
In addition to the physical security features, laser communication is also immune to RF spectrum interference, making it an ideal solution for operating in highly congested environments. This means that hackers are unable to jam the signal, providing an added layer of security.
Overall, the unique combination of physical and technical security measures makes lasercomms an ideal choice for applications where security is paramount.
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