BAI expands into Italy with an eye on 5G

Neutral host infrastructure provider BAI Communications is making moves into a new European market, launching operations in Italy led by former Telecom Italia executives.

In Europe BAI already operates in the U.K and in Ireland. Last year the company acquired U.S.-based Mobilitie to gain a greater foothold in North America. It’s U.S. presence also includes Transit Wireless, which provides connectivity infrastructure for subways in New York City. Other markets include Australia (its HQ), Canada and Hong Kong.

“BAI’s expansion into Italy represents another important milestone in our growth strategy to become a leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure in Europe and globally,” said BAI Group CEO Igor Leprince in a statement. “As one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, Italy presents an exciting opportunity for BAI to further extend its neutral host solutions, as MNOs, municipalities and private companies continue to invest in the 5G infrastructure required to support a more connected future.”

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In the Italian communications infrastructure space BAI hopes to deploy 5G small cells for network densification in urban areas, private wireless for enterprise across healthcare, education and manufacturing, and distributed antenna systems (DAS) for public venues and stadiums. The company plans to build on existing relationships with local mobile operators.

To lead the endeavor, BAI has tapped Luca Luciani, a former Telecom Italia executive who was with the operator for a decade and served as TIM Brazil CEO from 2009-2012, as CEO of BAI Italia.

Other senior executives joining the team include Antonio Ruggiero, Riccardo Jelmini, Riccardo D’Angelo and Enrico Lanzavecchia.

In the announcement, Luciani said the Italian operation aims to replicate BAI’s success in other countries as it strives to become Italy’s largest neutral host provider.

“The incredible experience across the BAI group means we are in the best position to work with the MNOs, private industrial precincts, commercial venues, public offices and municipalities to improve indoor and outdoor connectivity in Italy,” Luciani said. “Helping to accelerate digital innovation across multiple sectors and drive the deployment of smart city applications.”

A major focus for BAI has been neutral host for transportation, such as a 20-year concession it won with Transport for London (TfL) to outfit the London Underground station and tunnels with fixed and wireless infrastructure, initially supporting 4G as part of a large city-wide project. BAI immediately expanded its portfolio of in-building venue deployments when it purchased Mobilitie, with more than 220 venues outfitted in the U.S. It also boosted the public venue segment when it acquired Vilicom, a company specializing in designing, installing and managing 4G and 5G wireless networks, in Europe at the end of 2021.

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On the smart city front BAI just announced a city center 5G private network project for Sunderland in the U.K., powered by Mavenir’s MAVedge solutions.

And as operators gear up for next phases in 5G deployments, small cells could come further into play. In the U.S., tower company Crown Castle reported positive quarterly earnings, during which executives said recent deals with T-Mobile and Verizon marked just the start of what they expect to be an acceleration of small cell growth.

During its earlier expansion in the U.S. BAI noted Mobilitie’s portfolio includes 10,000 small cells, thousands of which are located in New York in and around BAI’s existing assets.