By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
BAI Communications (BAI) – a global leader in shared communications infrastructure including Wi-Fi – today cleared the last hurdle for acquiring New York City-based wireless infrastructure and Wi-Fi service provider ZenFi Networks. The joint company is now focusing even more strongly on providing ‘converged infrastructure’ for operators, venues, transit systems, and services direct to consumers using Wi-Fi, 5G, and CBRS, the company says.
Today BAI Communications – headquartered in Sydney, Australia – cleared the last regulatory hurdle for acquiring New York-city based ZenFi Networks, the company behind the LinkNYC free Wi-Fi initiative, which now also includes the new ‘Link5G’ infrastructure solution for converged wireless. BAI is ramping up activities in an effort to lead the global market in converged and neutral-host wireless infrastructure for operators, smart cities, transit systems, municipalities, and consumers.
ZenFi networks is BAI’s third US acquisition following New York City-based Transit Wireless as well as Mobilitie based in Los Angeles. Between the three US subsidiaries BAI is now capable of serving practically every telecom industry vertical with wireless solutions including rail transit (exemplified by connectivity for subway operations and commuters in New York City), hotels, stadiums, real estate in various forms – and now also street-level and indoor managed Wi-Fi as well as cellular infrastructure tower (or pole) colocation for mobile operators.
“We’re excited to be part of an infrastructure provider that now serves the people of New York City with connectivity both above ground – with the Link5G and LinkNYC project – as well as below ground with Transit Wireless. Wi-Fi offload and Wi-Fi roaming are excellent complements to our cellular and CBRS solutions,” says Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Networks. The LinkNYC Wi-Fi network is one of the largest active Passpoint (Hotspot 2.0) deployments in the world and the largest free public Wi-Fi network in the USA.
CEO of parent company BAI Communications Igor Leprince says the company is now focusing on delivering the right end-to-end infrastructure in order to provide connectivity via the right combination of wireless technologies. BAI’s group of clients is becoming increasingly diverse, he says.
“A good example is the ability of ZenFi Network’s Link5G technology to house Wi-Fi and multiple 5G small cell radios within the same enclosure at the right height above street level while interspersed at the right locations across the city. This will deliver high-quality connectivity in exactly the right places without having to tackle the usually difficult challenge of acquiring site locations,” Igor Leprince says.
Link5G is ZenFi’s new and improved next generation multi-purpose ‘smart pole’ installed at street level. The Link5G is already deployed in about one hundred locations and is currently under trial with mobile operators, ZenFi says. The Link5G is a 32 feet tall multi-technology, multi-tenant structure with room for Wi-Fi APs and incorporates hardware bays for up to five cellular or CBRS small cells, says Ray LaChance. A future version will include a display for community information or ads and will act as a device charging station, too.
“Our obligation to the City is to deploy units in 2,000 locations including in 740 areas that are designated ‘digital deserts’ – meaning where connectivity is scarce. The good news is that our high-capacity free Wi-Fi can be accessed from storefronts or even from inside apartments,” says Ray LaChance. He also says that he expects to upgrade to outdoor 6 GHz Wi-Fi when the new technology becomes available.