Earlier this year, BAI Communications (BAI) began their expansion into mainland Europe with the launch of BAI Italia. The Italian business is helmed by a team with deep knowledge of the local market and a proven record of success, backed by BAI’s resources and broader global market experience. As a result, the Italian business has already made strides towards becoming the country’s leading provider of neutral-host communications infrastructure.

Opportunity in Italy

The Italian telecommunications market is one of Europe’s largest, with rapidly growing demand for faster, seamless connectivity. Within the next 10 years the Italian Internet of Things (IoT) 5G data market is expected to grow by €20 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the digital evolution to speed up across the country and made the connected path to social and economic growth clear.

Meeting the requirements of this new digital economy and a future giga-bit society means networks need to rapidly extend and densify. Mobile network operators (MNOs), municipalities, and private companies are increasingly looking to neutral host providers to pioneer the way forward and lay the foundation for developing the required shared communications infrastructure.

From an operator’s perspective, neutral-host and shared infrastructure are financially convenient. Instead of needing to invest capital in infrastructure and real estate assets, for example, these companies gain more working capital, which can be used to speed up the process of bringing new offerings to market.

Providing the infrastructure to turn this scenario into a reality is a crucial part of BAI’s mission. BAI Italia has therefore set itself an ambitious goal: to become the first neutral host in the country focusing on mobile densification and 5G. That means deploying small cells for street-level coverage, along with indoor and outdoor Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to provide connectivity in all scenarios. With this infrastructure in place, operators are free to pursue new data delivery strategies to meet the demand for better, faster, ubiquitous services.

The case for ubiquitous connectivity

In the coming years, this kind of connectivity will be the basis of smart cities and smart communities. The needs of an ‘always connected’ society extend to every part of a city, with connectivity on urban streets just as vital as staying connected indoors. BAI is therefore also keen to invest in urban ’shadow areas’, where people have typically struggled to get coverage in the past.

This demand for connectivity also extends to transport networks within and between cities in Italy. Every day, almost 6 million people use public rail transport in the country. Half are using regional rail to commute to work in the city with poor or no connectivity on board. This critical infrastructure is the backbone of cities, regions, and towns, and more than ever, citizens expect enhanced connectivity and digital innovations to improve their experience. The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and connect; the connectivity along Italy’s rail networks is essential to achieving economic recovery and future prosperity.

In Italy, the market is at a unique inflection point, where true digitalisation and smart communities are becoming a reality, especially as 5G capabilities advance. BAI brings all the right experience and resources to enable a truly advanced 5G economy.

Digital transformation with 5G

For businesses, 5G and shared neutral-host infrastructure offer a suite of new capabilities to support digital transformation. By leveraging private networks, for example, sectors like Industry 4.0 can become more efficient and more productive, especially with IoT.

Smart factories running a 5G private network can control their operations in real-time, streamline processes, and take advantage of capabilities such as edge computing to refine their performance and sustainability. Private networks also ensure better data security, making them an appealing prospect for industries such as healthcare.

One of the first projects that BAI Italia is focusing on is testing out connected infrastructure deployments for a public hospital. In manufacturing, we are also working closely with a Tier 1 MNO to develop the connectivity infrastructure for a private plant. This is just the first step. The possibilities extend to entire smart city operations, including providing state-of-the-art DAS networks for venues and buildings like airports and public stadiums.

Advanced connectivity is also changing the game for live entertainment. For a 5G-enabled stadium, for example, the physical and virtual experience can be combined. Imagine watching a soccer match live at the stadium while at the same time getting up close and personal with the sports stars through virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). You can have instant high-definition (HD) replay as the game unfolds to truly be part of the action and have a fully immersive experience as a fan.

In all these scenarios, neutral-host options are the key to expanding the capabilities of service providers by providing reliable infrastructure that ensures better connectivity for both individuals and businesses.

Stepping up European smart connectivity

With these ideas in mind, the core goal of BAI’s expansion into Italy is to help pioneer the next wave of connectivity innovation that will set the stage for true smart cities and smart communities across the country.  With smart networks, smart transport, smart communities, and smart venues set to become the norm, we envision a future of ubiquitous connectivity across the continent.

As BAI Italia, we are proud to be the starting point for this vision and look forward to seeing BAI go from strength to strength across Europe in the future.

Interested in finding out more about BAI Italia’s neutral-host solutions? Reach us here.