1. Common Networks

Common Networks is a rare bird in the ISP space: Instead of a lengthy corporate history and a front-office full of telecom veterans, it’s a brand-new startup founded only last year by a handful of young men and women from payments company Square. Today the company counts a total of just a dozen full-time employees.

Perhaps more importantly, the company has raised $9.3 million in both seed and series A round funding from Eclipse Ventures and Lux Capital—essentially giving a venture funding seal of approval on its ambitious efforts.

So what’s Common Networks doing? It’s blasting wireless services from fiber connections over 5 GHz to antennas mounted on subscribers’ homes, “creating a wireless mesh network between homes, our relay locations, and our fiber internet sources,” the company said on its website. “A whole community can then have internet service with only a few homes needing to have access to our source. This mesh approach also increases reliability by ensuring every home has multiple points of connectivity in the neighborhood. If one radio fails or network traffic is particularly heavy in one area, we can route accordingly.”

Interestingly, as noted by Light Reading, Common Networks leverages software-defined networking to route traffic more effectively—a strategy bigger telecom players are only now beginning to talk about.

The result? Common Networks promises speeds of at least 75 Mbps and average rates of 150 Mbps for a flat fee of $50 per month with no contract necessary. It currently offers service in Alameda, California, with plans to expand.

The upshot: Common Networks isn’t the first company to roll out wireless mesh networking via 5 GHz, but the company’s startup pedigree, venture backing and straightforward pitch (“We’re not cable. We want you to spend more time with Jon Snow and less time deciphering your bill or talking to support,” Common Networks proclaims on its site”) could well give the company a leg up in the space.

1. Common Networks