Tarana's gigabit FWA ambitions backed by $50M funding round

Tarana announced a $50 million funding round that will speed up the expansion and further development of its fixed wireless access (FWA) platform, potentially getting the company closer to its goal of offering reliable gigabit service.

CEO Basil Alwan said the new funding round led by investment firm Digital Alpha will primarily be used as growth capital that will scale sales and deployment for Tarana's G1 platform. The demand for G1 continues to grow quarter-over-quarter, he told Fierce, “so this need is real and the capital is being used to support projects fully committed by our customers.”

The new funding from Digital Alpha will also contribute to "substantial investments" in ongoing research and development, Alwan said. Tarana has long been working toward gigabit speeds in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum to support service providers as an influx of home broadband subscribers overwhelm mobile networks.

With the G1 platform Tarana pitches a non-line-of-sight technology it calls next generation fixed wireless access, or ngFWA. It uses the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band at 3.5 GHz or the 5 GHz spectrum band, and a range of unique distributed massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) processing techniques specifically for home broadband.

Alwan said the G1 platform has demonstrated that near- and non-line-of-sight wireless in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum can deliver performance previously only possible with fiber, “in both downlink and uplink.” According to him, internet service providers (ISPs) using G1 are routinely offering 100 to 500 Mbps service packages.

Tarana sees 'large opportunities' for FWA growth

Tarana has touted G1 as a solution to reaching the underserved and unserved areas that fiber cannot. More than 250 ISPs across 19 countries have adopted the platform since its launch in late 2021, as more and more providers are mixing FWA with their fiber footprints. That includes Midwestern ISP Watch Communications, who in June announced it will deploy G1 to deliver internet to an estimated 1.4 million households and businesses across Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky by the end of 2024.

As the broadband market continues to prosper, Alwan said Tarana sees "large opportunities for growth" in North America and beyond from both government-subsidized and free-market players.

Digital Alpha is offering a variety of financial solutions to Tarana and its customers in addition to traditional equity investments. Specifically, they are providing a revenue-share financing option for Tarana customers who want to expand their use of Tarana's G1 technology. The firm has already funded existing Tarana customers including Element 8 and Wisper ISP and is "in pursuit" of more market opportunities and wireless internet service providers.

Tarana will not receive direct funding from federal or state funding programs like the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. But as with previous government subsidies like CAF and RDOF, Alwan said the company expects that BEAD funds will “flow to our customers who in turn will use Tarana ngFWA technology along with fiber to deliver equitable broadband to the large numbers of un- and underserved households in our communities.”

The company currently estimates that about 50% of its U.S. sales have a government funding subsidy “involved.”