SmartSky Networks has announced the closing of a total of $104m in funding, including $75 million in debt commitments from funds managed by the Global Credit team at BlackRock and equity investments by private equity firms Tiger Infrastructure, WP Global, Platform Partners, and Meritage Investors.
The funds will be used in the on-going rollout of SmartSky’s nationwide US air-to-ground network. With this new round of financing, SmartSky says has raised almost $350m in funding to date.
Haynes Griffin, SmartSky CEO, said: “This investment represents an expression of confidence in SmartSky by these sophisticated investors, including some of the most highly regarded institutions in the world.
“It comes only a few days after the announcement of our first commercial aviation customer.
“Both of these milestones were preceded by first-hand flight trials which demonstrated conclusively to these partners the ability of SmartSky’s blazing-fast, affordable two-way internet connectivity to fundamentally transform aviation.”
Last week, CEO Alex Wilcox of JetSuiteX, a rapidly-growing regional air carrier, said: “After a rigorous selection process including my personal inflight evaluation, we chose SmartSky’s state-of-the-art, high-speed technology because it delivers the most compelling user experience.”
SmartSky says its real-time system provides more than 10 times the speed of legacy airborne connections and claims it is the most secure and affordable inflight internet solution available.
The ground-based components of the system are being deployed throughout the contiguous United States using a mix of 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies, similar to some of the recent improvements in terrestrial cellular networks.
The inflight connectivity network will be commercially available later this year.