Toronto, Canada-based Kepler Communications has raised $16 million in a Series A round of funding. The company has brought in over $21 million so far for its broadband data relay and IoT services built around nanosatellites.
Costanoa Ventures lead the Series A round with Deutsche Bahn (DB) Digital Ventures participating as a strategic investor. A number of initial seed investors also participated in this round, including lead IA Ventures.
Kepler is already rolling out services for customers operating in the North and South poles areas who have limited connectivity options. The company’s first satellite, KIPP, is a 3U CubeSat providing upwards of 40 Mbps to a 60 cm diameter small dish to customers today. CASE, its second satellite, is on schedule to be launched on an India PSLV launch vehicle in mid-November 2018.
“We’ve spoken with icebreakers, oil tankers, tourism companies, maritime operators, and scientific organizations that all operate at the poles. They told us of the frustrations with the complete lack of high-bandwidth coverage in these regions. This is what led us to roll out PolarConnectTM, the world’s only high bandwidth solution designed for the poles,” stated Mina Mitry, CEO of Kepler.
One of Kepler’s early customers is F. Laeisz, one of the world’s oldest shipping companies. that operates an icebreaking vessel, the Polarstern. The icebreaker spends the majority of its operations outside of traditional satellite coverage and is using Kepler’s service to move “massive” bandwidth-intensive files like operational data, scientific data, videos, or photos.
Kepler’s store-and-forward data service is designed to work with a wide variety of existing Ku-band VSAT hardware, meaning customers with existing Ku-band steerable antennas will be able to make use of the service without the need to install new equipment.
Kepler’s third satellite TARS is currently under construction in the UK and is scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2019. TARS will be used to demonstrate Kepler’s Internet of Things (IoT) service, the reason why DB Digital Ventures decided to participate since DB has a need for IoT connectivity among its business units.
The $16 million in new funding will be used by Kepler to “grow revenues” – get more customers – and to launch its production GEN1 constellation of up to 15 nanosatellites by the end of 2020. GEN1 will delivery high-capacity and affordable store-and-forward services beyond the current capabilities in the company’s first three pathfinder satellites. Both GEN1 and the follow-on GEN2 constellation will have the capability for in-space connectivity as well.