With six months’ tenure, BAI Communications’ Group CEO Igor Leprince has already established plans to develop BAI’s 5G neutral host services to mobile network operators (MNOs), building on the company’s technical and operational expertise in designing, building, and managing communications networks around the world. Leprince’s experience in telecommunications infrastructure, including a decade as President Global Services at Nokia and previous chair of West Midlands 5G, brings fresh perspective to building partnerships with MNOs and helping local governments and transport operators deliver better connectivity to their communities.
What is 5G’s role in the fourth industrial revolution we’re currently experiencing?
The digital transformation the world has seen this century has fundamentally altered the way we live and how society is developing. I firmly believe that 5G will be a game changer for industry 4.0 and the key driver of development and uptake in many applications that will see businesses and government enterprises world-wide make significant progress in their digital transformation.
We are now at a time when emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and data analytics is maturing and we can achieve even more with this computing power using 5G’s speed, latency and capacity. With 5G, we expect to see these technologies increasingly scaled by organisations to improve their operations and customer experience. The economic benefits of being an early adopter from an efficiency and productivity standpoint are huge.
Where do you see the most opportunity for digital transformation in your industry?
Connected infrastructure will help give rise to new ways of travelling, such as more efficient and improved services from connected transport, whether that be across transport networks, public spaces, or municipality services.
Additionally, the need to capitalise on the increasingly topical ‘smart cities’ conversation is greater than ever as we see our city populations continue growing, placing increasing pressure on transport networks and city services.
For example, we are already seeing transport operators trialling cellular technologies for safer commuting, including data analytics solutions to monitor crowding and social distancing. BAI is working with the Toronto Transit Commission to harness anonymised Wi-Fi device association data to help manage and monitor overcrowding and inform commuters of service adjustments in near real-time. Not only does this help improve operational efficiencies, it also creates a sense of security for commuters.
Transport authorities can harness 5G to build stations of the future, modelling different operational scenarios, forecasting staff and service schedules, optimising passenger movements and planning better station, platform, and even network configurations.
The transport industry is in a period of change that is delivering important benefits for citizens and transforming cities. Therefore, there is much more to this change than simply technology’s contribution to convenience. Public transport innovation is becoming increasingly important, with users expecting connected, sustainable networks.
Our recent annual Connectivity outlook report surveyed rail users across five major cities and the biggest trend we saw was widespread support and growing demand for transport authorities and operators to invest in 5G networks.
Rail users want smart transit. As many as 95% of rail users are more likely to use the rail network in their city if technology-driven solutions were implemented. This level of social license presents significant opportunity for MNOs to deliver coverage across transport networks.
The world has felt the impact of COVID-19 deeply. How has this affected the telecommunications industry globally?
COVID-19 has demonstrated how quickly the world can adapt to new technologies and also heightened the need for advanced infrastructure to support connectivity as it relates to public safety. The arrival of 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic have reinforced my view of the importance of the telecommunications industry to society. Recently, there has been clear recognition of the significance of communications infrastructure and this will only get stronger.
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, city planners, developers, utility providers, and transport authorities must ‘future proof’ all design and development to reduce the risk of it becoming outdated. Digital development, enabled by connectivity, is changing the idea of what a city can – and should – offer its citizens and has enormous potential to connect people, enrich communities and advance economies.
It’s also clear that private and public sector collaboration is essential to advancing smart cities in the future. Furthermore, government and private sector leaders must collaborate on a range of considerations and mechanisms to successfully deliver infrastructure projects that withstand time and measure up to anticipated needs of future generations.
What does the digital transformation of the telecommunications industry mean for BAI Communications?
I see a great opportunity for BAI to play an important role in digital evolution by providing 5G neutral host services using our extensive technical and operational expertise in running neutral host networks in some of the most important cities in the world, such as New York and Toronto. Our long-established collaborative relationships with
authorities, telecommunication operators, and other participants in the broader ecosystem can help drive 5G connectivity in the markets where we operate today and beyond.
I am lucky to have joined an organisation with the capability to identify the significant potential of extending its reach and the agility to take on the opportunity to contribute to the evolution of our digitally dependant world.
About BAI Communications
BAI Communications designs, builds, and operates cellular, Wi-Fi, broadcast, radio and IP networks around the world. We are engineering experts and technology innovators with proven experience in delivering the next wave of connectivity solutions through long-term partnerships with broadcasters, transit operators, governments, and MNOs. As a leading communications infrastructure provider, BAI’s neutral host solutions connect people, enrich communities and advance economies. Our global operations span Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the US, where we have a majority stake in Transit Wireless.
We provide cellular coverage through 3G/4G shared networks and Wi-Fi for commuters in the major cities of New York, Toronto, and Hong Kong. Our connectivity solutions are also relied on by emergency services teams across the Australian state of New South Wales and public transit emergency services in New York and Toronto. We also own and operate one of the most extensive broadcast networks in the world, delivering 59 million broadcasting hours to 99% of the Australian population. BAI’s data engineering capabilities are great credentials for us to help our partners harness 5G, IoT, AI, and cutting-edge data analytics, to build the stations and the cities of the future.