“Internet penetration won’t be enough to get everyone online”: Rohit Jha of Transcelestial

Two Transcelestial employees with the Centauri device

According to Rohit Jha, Co-Founder and CEO, the majority of the world’s population still does not have access to the internet as existing communication technologies such as fiber optics and radio frequency are challenged by the ever-growing global demand for better connectivity from Transcelestial Technologies, a last-mile internet connection startup .

He also said internet penetration would not be enough to get everyone online. At the heart of the Internet distribution problem is the need to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to all people.

“Even among the ‘connected’, Internet speeds can vary between 12Mbps and 238Mbps. The impact on those at the lower end of the spectrum is being felt in their day-to-day digital careers, work and personal interactions,” he said in an interview with e27.

“Deploying fiber optics can be very time consuming and expensive in most countries. It often faces major “right-of-way” problems in gaining access to the ground where it can deploy. On a kilometer basis, it can cost anywhere from US$10,000 (in rural areas) to US$100,000 (in densely populated urban areas),” added Jha.

Also Read: Transcelestial Raises $9.6M for Series A to ‘Make a Global Step in Internet Connectivity’

Transcelestial can address this issue with its laser communications technology (Lasercomms), he added. The Singapore startup has developed a networking device called Centauri to provide a wireless distribution network between buildings, traditional cell towers, street-level towers and other physical infrastructure. Centauri is the size of a shoe box, weighs less than 3 kg and can deliver fiber-like speeds to customers.

“Our device delivers the same level of high-speed wireless, regardless of contextual factors such as extreme weather or spectrum licensing. The technology consists of precisely beaming a laser, as thin as a single strand of hair, into a smartphone-sized window 3km away. The cost of deploying our technology per km is about 10x cheaper and it takes days (vs. months) to deploy,” Jha claimed.

“Wireless solutions like Centauri devices provide consistent, high-speed wireless connectivity even in congested environments or the most demanding weather conditions. They can be deployed quickly with a simple point-to-point connection, which means companies can now connect the last mile quickly, flexibly and cost-effectively with no right of way,” said Jha. “We eliminate the need to run expensive fiber optics to bring internet to cell towers and buildings in the case of home or office broadband.”

Centauri devices are already installed in over ten markets including Singapore, US, Indonesia, India, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Mongolia.

Its customers include leading telecom companies, internet service providers, ports, universities, sports entertainment organizations, cloud providers, defense and governments.

Globe Telecom, which has previously tested its technology, has deployed Centauri in the Philippines in areas where fiber is difficult to install. HIT Ports in Hong Kong have also deployed this technology between their data centers to enable connectivity.

Last week, Transcelestial opened a $1 million terabit factory in Singapore. The 2,000 square meter production facility can produce up to 2,400 Centauri devices annually. It can create a potential bandwidth of over 10 Tbps, which translates into the capacity to connect tens of millions of users.

Also Read: Transcelestial Aims to Help Telcos Rapidly and Cost-Effectively Adopt 5G in SEA

Terabit Factory was established to meet the increasing demand for laser communication technology in the telecommunications, broadband, education, ports and marine, government and defense sectors.

The company is currently in talks with some of the world’s leading telecom and connectivity partners to adopt technologies produced directly at this facility.

Transcelestial recently expanded into India, a huge market with huge potential. It has a local commercial team and some early partners at the national level working on key broadband initiatives in some southern states of India.

“For example, we are working with a premier business broadband provider with a large footprint across India to provide high-speed connectivity to its business customers. In parallel, we are also working with key rail and metro station owners to build robust connectivity infrastructure at and between their stations,” he said.

Founded in December 2016 by Jha and Mohammad Danesh (CTO), Transcelestial is backed by investors including EDBI, Wavemaker Partners, Airbus Ventures, Cap Vista, SEEDS Capital, Entrepreneur First, Partech Ventures, 500 Startups, AirTree Ventures, Tekton Ventures and SGInnovate, and SparkLabs Global Ventures.

Transcelestial also counts Michael Seibel (CEO of Y-Combinator, founder of Twitch.tv) and Charles Songhurst (former Head of Corporate Strategy at Microsoft) among its supporters.

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