Astranis raises $90M to create a satellite broadband network

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Astranis just raised $90M for its satellite broadband network
Image: Astranis

Despite the fact that almost all of the United States is blanketed in Internet coverage these days, companies are still trying to pioneer new ways to connect. The next big frontier for wireless service providers is using satellites to create seamless networks around the globe. Several companies, including some noteworthy names like SpaceX and Amazon, are currently working on such projects.

However, there are other players worth spotlighting. Astranis is one of them. The startup has just raised $90 million in Series B funding to create its first commercial satellites. With the influx of cash, it will be able to take the next step towards a futuristic Internet offering.

Space Internet Newbies

Astranis isn’t a name that many people are probably familiar with. In fact, some might be wondering why an unknown startup is even attempting to challenge the likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Of course, that question has a somewhat negative connotation. It suggests that the startup has no chance of competing in the satellite broadband business.

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In reality, Astranis has a strong strategy in place to help it compete with the big names in space. It plans to use geostationary satellites to deliver its Internet coverage. That is different from its competitors’ plans to use large constellations that move in low Earth orbit.

Astranis’ approach is similar to current methods of creating Internet coverage from space, yet, it isn’t exactly the same. The startup plans to use satellites that are 20 times smaller than typical Internet satellites and weigh in at just 770 pounds. This is possible thanks to its proprietary ultra-sideband software-defined radio tech.

To simplify a complex technology, it allows Astranis’ satellites to create much more bandwidth by using digital protocols rather than analog ones. As an added bonus, this means that Astranis can build and launch new satellites in mere months rather than needing years to do so.

For a company with hopes of creating and operating a satellite Internet service, easy maintenance will be a huge asset.

Satellite Cash Injection

Astranis’ newest funding round is a huge boost for the startup. It is a combination of debt and equity. Y Combinator and other venture capital firms account for $40 million of equity. Meanwhile, TriplePoint Capital is contributing the remaining $50 million worth of debt facility.

The startup will use the funding over the course of 2020 and 2021 to begin fleshing out its plans for a satellite Internet offering. It will need to not only perfect its satellite design but also start forming relationships within the industry.

Meanwhile, Astranis has already signed an agreement with SpaceX that will send one of its commercial satellites into orbit. That mission may occur as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. If it does, the startup could be well on its way to unveiling a satellite-based Internet service earlier than people expect.

It will need to move quickly if it wants to keep pace with its deep-pocketed competitors. Thanks to the new funding, Astranis has a fighting chance.

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