Three questions with… BAI Communications

Company name: BAI Communications

Company overview: BAI Communications is a world leader in shared communications infrastructure, pioneering the future of advanced connectivity, and delivering the ubiquitous coverage that can transform lives, power business ambitions and shape the future of cities.

Your name and title: Andrew Conway, Director of Solutions and Innovations

Q1. Your company is a member of Small Cell Forum, so what is your view on the future of small cells as 5G comes in?

Data growth is driving an increased need for network densification globally. There are only so many rooftops out there for macro sites and bringing network closer to customers through small cell deployments will improve customer experience.

BAI Communications took the opportunity to join the executive board of Small Cell Forum at this inflexion point. We were attracted by the way SCF bridged the worlds of standard setting, technical blueprints and developing practical guides for industry.

As a global leader in shared communications infrastructure, our experience in New York, Hong Kong, Toronto and now London shows that small cells are key to delivering that capacity layer. Not only for ubiquitous 4G, but 5G now acting as an accelerant.

Our twenty-year partnership with Transport for London is tremendously exciting as it will offer unparalleled opportunity to utilise streetscape assets to build out small cells at scale, connected by a fibre backbone.

Q2. How do you see the industry changing at the moment and what can the Forum do to address/improve/or enhance these changes?

There are three trends we see emerging. New deployment models – particularly in our domain as a Neutral Host – designing and deploying shared infrastructure to ‘do it once’. The emergence of small cells to provide not only public networks, but also private network offerings. And finally, the evolving supply-chain ecosystem with Open RAN technology. These strategic trends are also reflected in real life cases – a great example is our 20-year strategic partnership with Sunderland City Council, which has a small cell fabric at the heart of a Smart City network, based on new Open RAN technology.

SCF is making great headway in all of the fields outlined and we see that the SCF Small Cell Awards this year have added new categories in this area to showcase, which will provide additional impetus.

Q3. In relation to your business, what are some the key technologies /or polices that are driving the industry (or parts of the industry) forward at the moment, and how can we progress further and faster?

The new technologies and models I have outlined have potential to ‘complexify’ the industry if we are not careful. I’d like to see renewed focus in government and industry on facilitating deployment of small cells at scale. It’s all about the asset, power provision and fibre backhaul to site and streamlining the approval process.

Our message is that shared infrastructure for small cells is poised to accelerate and that ultimately it is not a technology challenge. The future relies on strategic long-term partnerships with neutral hosts, mobile operators, government and local councils to make a reality.