Airspan Breathes In $50M Third Round

One year after raising $32.5 million in its second round of venture financing, Airspan Communications Corp. earlier this month received $50 million through a Series C transaction.

The company, which has dual headquarters in Seattle and London, has deployed fixed wireless telecommunications services in 15 markets across the globe. Proceeds from the round, which was led by MeriTech Capital Partners, Weston Presidio Capital and BancBoston Ventures, will go to sales and marketing, engineering and additional deployments in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Chief Financial Officer Joe Caffarelli said the investment should fund the company’s operations and expansion strategy until mid-2001, when it would likely go public.

“I tend to be pretty conservative and have favored raising money through equity rather than debt,” he said. “As we look at investment banking relationships when evaluating when to go public, we will assess who provides us the most service with the best cost.”

Existing investors were held to pro rata investments, including Series B leader private equity funds affiliated with Deutsche Bank, Oak Investment Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds, InterWest Partners and Venrock Associates. Although Airspan was spun off from DSC Communications in February 1998, DSC holds no equity stake in the company due to a non-compete clause.

Airspan markets itself as a full-service telecommunications provider that offers voice and data communications to individual and enterprise consumers. Investors believe Airspan’s wireless plan is ultimately the most cost-effective way to transmit information.

“The beauty of the wireless system is that you can put up bay stations at minimal costs, as opposed to fiber, which requires a large capital investment and commitment,” said Philip Halperin, general partner at Weston Presidio. “They only have to build where the customers are.”

Caffarelli anticipates U.S.-based enterprises and individual users in third world regions will provide the company’s greatest growth opportunities.