We caught up with Victoria Lamberth, Chief Revenue Officer at ZenFi Networks, at this year’s Connected America conference to discuss the company’s neutral host model, their mission to connect the unconnected in urban environments, and their recent acquisition by BAI Communications

At this year’s Connected America conference, bridging the digital divide was one of the hottest topics, with discussions spanning the latest technologies to how best to make use of the wealth of public funding becoming available through government initiatives.

Naturally, much of the discussion focussed around extending wireless and fibre networks to rural and hard-to-reach communities, but, as ZenFi’s Victoria Lamberth reminds us, the digital divide is far from a purely rural phenomenon.

“When we hear about the underserved community, we typically think about rural communities,” explained Lamberth. “But people are often surprised to hear that in a place like New York City there are millions of people that are unconnected and under connected. A recent survey by the American Consumer Group has shown that nearly 33% of New Yorkers do not have home and mobile broadband that’s sufficient to serve in the 21st Century.”

ZenFi specialises in providing outdoor connectivity to these urban areas as a neutral host, making use of a variety of different technologies, from fibre to 5G. Indeed, Lamberth notes that the nature of the neutral host business model makes the company well placed to tackle the urban digital divide, since they must address not only needs of their immediate customers, like mobile network operators, but also communities’ long-term requirements.

“The more broadly we can build these infrastructure assets today, the better opportunity we have to serve those markets in future,” said Lamberth.

ZenFi was acquired by BAI Communications last year, bringing them into BAI’s wider portfolio of specialist network infrastructure companies, which includes players focussed on military and transit connectivity. As a result of this varied brand identity, BAI has recently announced its intention to rebrand as Boldyn Networks in June this year, which Lamberth explained will give customers a simpler path to holistic connectivity.

“When we first came together under BAI, we realised that there were all of these competing brands that offered very complementary services to customers. An easier way for our customers to engage with us is under one brand and that brand is Boldyn Networks,” said Lamberth. “The idea behind it is we want to bring this forward-looking, innovative view to the digital infrastructure space, with a long-term focus on digital equity and inclusion. At the end of the day, we’re responsible for connecting our communities globally.”

You can watch our full interview with Victoria Lamberth from the link below.

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