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Wireless laser communications startup Transcelestial raises $10 mln

Singapore-based startup Transcelestial, which makes wireless laser communications equipment, said on Thursday it raised $10 million in a funding round led by Airbus Ventures.

The funding will be used to boost internet infrastructure in Southeast Asia and India, Rohit Jha, CEO and co-founder of Transcelestial, said.

The high cost of putting fibre optic cables under the sea or underground is a barrier to getting poorer countries and rural America onto a speed of internet that works, Jha told Reuters.

Transcelestial’s technology is basically fibre optics going wireless, Jha added. Instead of shooting light through cables, it is shot wirelessly from a device the company named Centauri and is installed on top of buildings or cell towers.

The devices are manufactured in Singapore and the lasers can connect a distance of 2 km to 3 km to transport data.

“The thesis back in the sixties and seventies was, eventually the size and the efficiency of the power of the lasers would reach a point where you could use lasers directly, wirelessly, to transmit data. And you don’t need these fibre cables anymore,” said Jha.

“In the last five to six years, we have reached capabilities that allows us to do that commercially.”

The technical challenge Transcelestial had to overcome was to build hardware that could compensate for buildings or cell tower movement to make sure the beams can hit receivers on the other end.

In addition to helping build out internet infrastructure more cheaply, wireless laser communications are more secure than using fibre optics, which can be tapped to steal data, Jha said, adding that if hackers try to intercept the laser beam, the devices just shut off. CNA

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