Where it's based: Ashburn, Va.
When it was founded: 2005
Why it's Fierce: This mobile broadband provider is proving that the rural business model works. In 2007, DigitalBridge became one of the first firms to launch a commercial WiMAX system in the U.S. in Rexburg, Idaho. It now offers fixed broadband in a number of markets in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, including Jackson Hole, Wyo., which was the first city in the U.S. to get a certified mobile WiMAX 2.5 GHz network.
DigitalBridge is focused on underserved markets with populations from 10,000 to about 75,000, and is backed by some impressive venture capital funds, including RedShift Ventures, CNF Investments and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Last October, DigitalBridge completed its most recent round of financing, totaling $16.5 million.
DigitalBridge is clearly serving a need in rural America. The company achieved 20 percent penetration in less than 18 months in markets where it launched WiMAX, and it is EBITDA positive without government funding.
But perhaps the most impressive move by DigitalBridge is the recent distribution deal it inked with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative in return for the NRTC's "significant" investment in DigitalBridge. The NRTC is going to help DigitalBridge secure its foothold in rural America by enabling NRTC members to offer universal access to broadband throughout the country using a combination of WiMAX and satellite. Using this same model, the NRTC was instrumental in making DirecTV a success. Now it's looking to do the same for DigitalBridge.
What's next: Expect DigitalBridge to expand its footprint rapidly by launching mobile WiMAX in other rural U.S. markets.