CityFibre’s full fibre network will help provide data capacity for the small cell network

Back in October 2021, Sunderland City Council awarded BAI Communications a 20-year contract to build and operate a private 5G small cell network, aiming to turn the city into one of the most advanced smart cities in the country. The network, which will operate under a neutral host model, is expected to be completed by the summer of 2022.  
At the time, BAI said the creation of the network would create over 100 jobs in the city and would help support local businesses and bring substantial social and economic benefits to its residents.
Concurrently, fibre player CityFibre has also been busy within the city. At the start of last year, the company said it would invest at least £62 million in deploying fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) in Sunderland as part of its nationwide rollout. This investment should see almost every home and business in the city gain access to the new technology.
With this in mind, today’s partnership between CityFibre and BAI seems like a natural pairing. BAI’s 5G network will require support from a powerful fixed network, helping to deliver the required capacity that the dense small cell 5G network will need to provide 5G advanced services.
“Sunderland’s new high speed 5G network represents another key milestone in our city’s digital transformation. Key partnerships, such as ours with BAI Communications and CityFibre, are elevating our position as a digital leader and catalysing confidence and growth across our smart city,” said Patrick Melia, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council.
“This faster and more reliable 5G network represents huge opportunities to expand our mobile ecosystem. 5G continues to impact every industry, improving performance and efficiency across an array of sectors and services, from remote healthcare to logistics and transport, as well as digitally connecting people and places.”
Other options for the potential partnership would have been Virgin Media O2, which has around 80,000 homes and businesses connected to its network in Sunderland, and relative newcomer Netomnia, which has been expanding its FTTP network in various locations recently, most recently in South Wales.
Is the rollout of next-generation communications technology the key to levelling up the North? Find out what the industry thinks at this year’s inaugural Connected North event
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