Jun 15, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: Battlefield communications startup eyes Ukraine as a test bed

A rendering of a base station being transported on a military vehicle. Image: SEMPRE

A retired general and former White House official is seeking U.S. approval for his startup to provide its secure communications technology to the Ukrainian military.

The latest: SEMPRE (Secure EMP Resistant Edge), a tech startup run by retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding, wants to offer its technology to allow Ukrainian soldiers to communicate securely without having to rely on traditional communications networks.

  • The company has received a request from the Ukrainian military and is seeking Commerce Department approval, required for it to export the technology.

Catch-up quick: SEMPRE landed $20 million in funding last year to develop its secure tower technology, which can be used either in conjunction with satellite and 5G networks or as a series of independent wireless nodes to allow secure communication.

  • In 2018, Spalding wrote a controversial PowerPoint deck on how the U.S. government could play a greater role in building 5G networks.
  • With SEMPRE, Spalding is hoping to commercialize some of the ideas he put forth while in government.
  • The company recently acquired NewSpace Networks, which specializes in ground-based operations for satellite communications.

The big picture: SEMPRE sees a wide range of commercial and government uses for its approach and hopes to begin broader testing of the technology next year.

  • The 35-person startup creates software to run micro datacenters. On the hardware side, it builds base stations that use standard networking gear and servers, but have been hardened against an electromagnetic pulse attack.

Yes, but: The company is not looking to replace existing networks, but rather to offer a secure option for first responders and others who value security and resilience.

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