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Astranis satellite launch to provide better broadband connectivity to underserved populations

Astranis, which has raised $13.5 million in a Series A round, will be launching satellites that use software-defined radio instead of analogue radio.

A new private satellite startup is looking to provide broadband connectivity at to underserved populations of the world, although with one difference. Astranis has just raised $13.5 million in a Series A round with venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz making the investment. For its satellite, it intends to utilise software-defined radio technology, which is touted to be more sophisticated than analogue radio, which is what most traditional satellite have relied on thus far.

The Astranis satellite will use digital signal processing, which the company claims will increase throughput and performance. This also provides the company with greater flexibility to move between frequency bands rather than tying them to one.

In addition, unlike most other competing companies like Space X that are putting up a constellation of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Astranis is building a 300 kg satellite far away from the earth in the geostationary orbit in a fixed location. This means the company’s satellites can provide connectivity almost immediately after launch.

Astranis CEO John Gedmark calls this a more “direct path” than having to have “hundreds of satellites up before you can be operational in low earth orbit”.

A prototype of the company’s satellite was launched in January and has already successfully demonstrated broadband and HD video streaming capability.

With the new round of funding, Astranis hopes to launch its satellites and begin to offer services immediately to customers. Its first customers will be satellite operators who are already employing satellite bandwidth for internet services.

“We have all the pieces in place now,” said Gedmark.

“We have the funding, we have an incredible team of talented engineers, we have the technological progress and we have a long list of customers. We’re open for business and ready to get this off the ground.”