You would think that living in tech-savvy California would guarantee you high-speed internet. Well, think again — some suburban areas, like Alameda, are still experiencing low-speed connectivity at high costs. Common Networks is trying to solve that problem and today announced funding of $7 million in a round led by Eclipse Ventures.
“Cities have the population density to make technologies like fiber to the home and high-speed cable feasible,” wrote Common Networks founder and CEO Zach Brock, in an email to VentureBeat. “In suburbs, fiber to the home rollouts have failed because it’s not cost-effective to run new lines to every house.”
The San Francisco-based startup runs its own fiber-connected points of presence in the East Bay by connecting directly with internet providers. “Because of the distributed nature of our system we don’t need a big expensive data center to run all customer traffic,” wrote Brock. “Instead, we run a number of less expensive redundant points of presence.”
Common Networks currently operates in Alameda and claims to provide its services to 1,000 customers. The $50 a month flat rate includes a router and Wi-Fi access point, bringing the total to $600 a year. This compares to Webpass’ high speed internet service, which charges $500 a year.
According to Brock, Webpass is great if you live in a new, large apartment building in a city, not in a house in the suburbs. He adds that Common Networks is way ahead of other legacy internet providers. “Verizon doesn’t have a presence in Alameda as a residential broadband provider, and AT&T only offers DSL service in the area, which provides somewhere from 6 to 16 Mbps download and 0.5 to 3 Mbps upload,” he wrote. “Our average customer gets 150 Mbps both upload and download.”
If the technology really is faster and cheaper, it could be a good solution for developing countries. “We think there’s an opportunity for developing nations to leapfrog wired broadband in a lot of areas and deploy faster and less expensive wireless infrastructure,” wrote Brock. But the CEO adds that right now, the startup is focusing on the U.S. market. It plans on using the new capital to grow its presence in the East Bay and expand to new markets. It will also continue developing its technology.
Lux Capital joined Eclipse Ventures in today’s round, which brings Common Networks’ total raised to $9.3 million since its founding in 2016. The startup currently has 12 employees.