The city of Sunderland in the United Kingdom is set to benefit from next generation 5G mobile infrastructure.
The north-eastern city is now on track to becoming one of Britain’s most advanced smart cities, thanks to a new 20-year strategic partnership with BAI Communications. The Toronto-based tech leaders have been given the green light to design, build and operate Sunderland’s new system, which will include a private 5G small cell network.
The project is the next step on Sunderland City Council’s journey to achieve its global smart city ambition, having been awarded the UK Smart City of the Year 2020 accolade and Connected Britain Digital Council of the Year 2021.
The first phase of the partnership will see a backbone of 5G connectivity, based on a neutral host model, established within the city by Summer 2022. The new high speed 5G coverage will provide a platform for business growth and innovation, supporting the UK government’s levelling up agenda by bringing substantial social and economic benefits to its residents, businesses and visitors, including the creation of over 100 jobs.
Through the partnership, supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and HM Government’s Getting Building Fund, Sunderland will be able to scale its advanced smart city plan, allowing the city to be at the forefront of innovation and achieve true global competitiveness.
Greater high speed 5G mobile connectivity, which offers much faster response times across the network, will be complemented by other networking technologies to enable Sunderland to deliver transformative digital services for communities and sectors across the city at much greater scale, including:
- Manufacturing and logistics – The project will unlock further Industry 4.0 benefits, such as increasing supply chain agility through further development of self-driving vehicle trials, which includes the use of autonomous heavy goods vehicles for transfer of goods between the Nissan supply chain and the Sunderland Nissan car manufacturing plant.
- Education – Better connectivity will support online and remote learning across Sunderland’s schools, following on from the success at Hudson Road Primary School, ensuring young people have the digital skills they need to enter the future workforce.
- Social care – The greater reach and capacity of the new connectivity will enable existing deployment of assistive technologies for vulnerable people to scale significantly. These technologies utilise sensors in the homes of vulnerable people to support independent living.
Patrick Melia, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council, said:
“This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City. We are very much looking forward to our 20-year strategic partnership with BAI, as its team helps us realise our ambitions and make our goals a reality. We are confident the benefits of this partnership will reach every resident, organisation and business within our city and indeed the wider area.”
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said:
“Our long-term strategic partnership with Sunderland City Council will completely transform the city, accelerating Sunderland’s ambitions to become one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities, connecting people, communities and businesses.
“We will leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to establish a network of connectivity which will enhance employment opportunities, business efficiency and growth, helping to secure its prosperous future. Our extensive credentials delivering large-scale connected infrastructure and networking solutions position us perfectly to capitalise on the fast-growing commercial appeal of 5G enterprise solutions and smart city applications.”
The agreement follows the recent deal announcement with Transport for London, that saw BAI awarded the concession to deliver high-speed mobile connectivity across the capital, building on BAI’s significant experience of deploying connectivity in highly dense urban environments across the world, including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong.