BAI deploys 5G to turn Sunderland smart

  • October 25, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

A private 5G small cell network from Australian company BAI Communications should help the UK city of Sunderland realise its smart city ambitions.

The 5G centric network should accelerate adoption of transformative digital services for sectors including manufacturing and logistics, education and social care. The roll-out of this connectivity across Sunderland should stimulate economic growth and reduce digital exclusion, creating more than 100 jobs.

Sunderland City Council has awarded a 20-year strategic partnership to BAI to design, build and operate digital infrastructure including a private 5G small cell network. The project is the next step on Sunderland’s journey to achieve its global smart city ambition, having been awarded the UK Smart City of the Year 2020 accolade and Connected Britain Digital Council of the Year 2021.

The first phase of the partnership will see a backbone of 5G connectivity, based on a neutral host model, established within the city by summer 2022. The high-speed 5G coverage will provide a platform for business growth and innovation, supporting the government’s levelling up agenda by bringing social and economic benefits to its residents, businesses and visitors, including the creation of more than 100 jobs.

Through the partnership, supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the UK government’s Getting Building Fund, Sunderland will be able to scale its smart city plan, allowing the city to be at the forefront of innovation and achieve global competitiveness. High-speed 5G mobile connectivity, which offers faster response times across the network, will be complemented by other networking technologies to enable Sunderland to deliver digital services for communities and sectors across the city at much greater scale, including:

  • Manufacturing and logistics: The project will unlock Industry 4.0 benefits, such as increasing supply chain agility through development of self-driving vehicle trials, which includes the use of autonomous heavy goods vehicles for transfer of goods between the Nissan supply chain and the Sunderland Nissan car manufacturing plant.
  • Education: Better connectivity will support online and remote learning across Sunderland’s schools, following on from the success at Hudson Road Primary School, ensuring young people have the digital skills they need to enter the future workforce.
  • Social care: The reach and capacity of the connectivity will enable existing deployment of assistive technologies for vulnerable people to scale significantly. These technologies use sensors in the homes of vulnerable people to support independent living.

“This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City,” said Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council. “We are very much looking forward to our 20-year strategic partnership with BAI, as its team helps us realise our ambitions and make our goals a reality. We are confident the benefits of this partnership will reach every resident, organisation and business within our city and indeed the wider area.”

BAI is a provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure. The agreement follows the recent deal with Transport for London, that saw BAI awarded the concession to deliver high-speed mobile connectivity across the capital, building on BAI’s experience of deploying connectivity in highly dense urban environments across the world, including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong.

“Our long-term strategic partnership with Sunderland City Council will completely transform the city, accelerating Sunderland’s ambitions to become one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities, connecting people, communities and businesses,” said Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications in the UK. “We will leverage the power of 5G and the internet of things to establish a network of connectivity which will enhance employment opportunities, business efficiency and growth, helping to secure its prosperous future. Our extensive credentials delivering large-scale connected infrastructure and networking position us perfectly to capitalise on the fast-growing commercial appeal of 5G enterprise and smart city applications.”

BAI’s operations span Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, UK and in the USA through BAI Group company Mobilitie and majority-owned Transit Wireless.