The ideal way to connect people to the internet is to run a fiber-optic cable into their homes. When that’s impractical, there are various options to use wireless networks as a substitute. The entire global telecommunications industry is focused on building 5G networks, which promise speeds rivaling those of broadband. The world’s two richest men are backing competing efforts to beam down signals from tens of thousands of orbiting satellites, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. have mothballed their plans to build networks of internet-transmitting balloons and drones, respectively.
Tarana Wireless, based in Milpitas, Calif., is working on another approach, with a novel way to direct wireless signals around obstacles. With sufficient computing power and the right algorithms,Tarana’s antennas can send multiple signals to each customer, rapidly hop among the best-performing connections for each one, and combine them to strengthen the signal. The startup—if you can still call it that, given that it’s been around for 12 years— has designed computing chips for exactly this purpose. “It’s almost like magic,” says Greg Wyler, a telecommunications veteran who has invested more than $30 million in Tarana. “You sort of have to stop time for a moment and do all the math.”
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