Airspan Networks, with $95 million in fresh equity funding, has said it has been selected by Boldyn Networks to supply the private radio network (RAN) infrastructure for the city of Sunderland’s smart-city 5G project in the UK. The US vendor’s AirSpeed 1900 outdoor small cells have been incorporated already into existing street furniture around the city, it said.

The open RAN units are providing “high-performance and high-capacity connectivity” across Sunderland, it said. UK-headquartered Boldyn Networks, which bought private networking specialist Edzcom from Spanish tower company Cellnex in March, amid a string of acquisitions, was appointed to manage networking elements in the Sunderland smart-city project in 2022, when it was still BAI Communications. 

It followed a tender in mid-2020 to establish a ‘strategic consortium’ and procure a “strategic delivery partner” for the project, to establish the country’s first city-owned ‘neutral host’ network for 5G and fibre. US network vendor Mavenir was originally recruited by Boldyn / BAI to provide the core and radio elements in a “5G centric network” to “accelerate adoption” of digital services among the local manufacturing, logistics, education, and social care sectors.

The initial phase, pegged for Mavenir, was for a private 5G network in the city centre. Airspan Networks said its equipment has been used for the same piece of work. It stated: “The first phase of the Smart Cities project saw the successful rollout of next-generation connectivity across Sunderland, laying the foundation for progress in various sectors. Key areas that benefited from the 5G private network include: smart homes, digital skills, education and Industry 4.0.”

It said: “The chosen radios employed a comprehensive architecture, integrating all the Open RAN software within a single radio enclosure and offered variable options for fronthaul connectivity to overcome challenges in areas with limited fibre presence. Airspan… provided options for connections over both fibre and point-to-point microwave.”

Henrik Smith-Petersen, chief sales and marketing officer at Airspan, commented: “Dense, software-centric 5G networks are crucial in establishing a network of connectivity that enhances employment opportunities, business efficiency, growth, and secures a prosperous future. Our credentials were well-suited to delivering equipment for large-scale connected infrastructure and networking solutions for Sunderland City Council.”

Claire Venners, director of delivery for Boldyn Networks in the UK and Ireland, said: “Airspan’s continued support and advanced technology solutions have been important in our journey to transform Sunderland into a pioneering smart city… Sunderland is at the forefront of the smart city revolution. The city’s commitment to leveraging technology to drive innovation and enhance the quality of life for its residents sets a shining example for other smart cities worldwide.”

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