Smart city applications rely on a highly robust communications network, and BAI Communications intends to provide such a network at scale to support the next-generation connectivity and smart city development, according to the company’s group CEO, Igor Leprince. Speaking with AGL eDigest during an interview, Leprince said that neutral-host infrastructure and small cells would complement 5G wireless communications and associated technologies, such as analytics.
“A smart community can be a high street in a city where you’re putting together a set of local businesses to have connectivity, deliver services in a way that helps that certain municipality and improves the citizen services and the associated social and economic care,” Leprince said. “That’s the way we define a smart community.”
Municipalities partner with companies such as BAI Communications to provide neutral-host infrastructure, Leprince said.
“We have a big role to play in supporting these public-private enterprises, establishing smart communities among organizations and campuses and contributing to smart city development in a meaningful way,” he said.
Small cell technology is an important factor in the 5G wireless communications story, Leprince said. He said that shared infrastructure for small cells is poised to accelerate in the coming year.
“No doubt about that, in an increasingly growing number,” he said. “As early as last week, I was reading the Small Cell Forum report that neutral hosts are expected to account for 30 percent of new deployment of small cell infrastructure by 2026, and 20 percent of the inside wireless. It’s a huge increase from the current level.”
A company with communications infrastructure assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong, BAI Communications has taken steps to grow its business. Two of those steps include its pending acquisition of U.S.-based Mobilitie and its selection by Transport for London (TfL) for a 20-year concession to design, install and operate citywide communications infrastructure using TfL assets.
Mobilitie has a broad portfolio of 220 venues across 39 states, 10,000 small cells across 45 states, and 300 tower sites across 14 states. It also has contracts to build wireless communication networks for the public transit systems in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area. TfL has tens of thousands of streetscape assets available for BAI Communications to use in support of wireless access points.
A Dutch multinational corporation, Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting, entered into a partnership with BAI Communications that will help BAI with its wireless connectivity effort to advance smart community projects.
“The partnership is about combining our portfolio of neutral-host facilities and capabilities with Signify’s innovative portfolio in connected lighting with things like gigabit transmission, integrated luminaires, smart poles and smart hubs,” Leprince said. “The interest is in combining the expertise of the two businesses to boost the extensive capability to support fixed mobile operators and municipalities for smart city opportunities and 5G services. We’re going to test this partnership on the go-to-market side, but also on some of the projects that we announced, such as Transport for London.”
The collaboration will concentrate on BAI’s existing global operations ahead of exploring further opportunities across Europe, according to a statement BAI issued about the partnership. “This is another move in BAI’s active pursuit to be a world leader in connected 5G infrastructure,” the statement reads. “Collaboration outcomes will include co-creating connectivity solutions to circumvent the growing pressure on wireless communication due to increasing congestion on radio spectrum. This will unlock a broad range of operational and revenue improvement opportunities for BAI’s customers.”
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, known as CPP Investments, owns 86 percent of BAI Communications, which has its official headquarters in Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia, and assets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. The company grew from a business known as Broadcast Australia, which today delivers 126 million broadcast hours to 99 percent of the Australian population and which remains a significant part of the BAI Communications group of companies.
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.