City Council looks to edge and Open RAN to boost local business and evolving economy
Mavenir, the network software firm and BAI Communications (BAI), a global comm infrastructure provider, are launching a smart city project for Sunderland City Council in the north-east of England (UK).
In recent decades the region suffered from the demise of heavy industries like coal mining, steelworks and shipbuilding but the Sunderland is undergoing a transformation, attracting investment from newer industries.
BAI Communications will build a new 5G-centric network – runing on Mavenir’s MAVedge solution – to accelerate adoption of digital services for manufacturing and logistics, education and social care.
The initial scope is for the deployment of a city-centre 5G private network which could evolve and become a neutral host network.
Neutral host models enable local councils and authorities to provide smart services and run numerous smart community applications in a more viable and cost-effective manner by offering services from more than one mobile service provider from the same small cell.
MAVedge comprises Open vRAN and 5G Packet Core solutions to offer 5G connectivity and enables secure private networks to be distributed at the edge to support a digital marketplace of applications and devices. The idea is that the marketplace will “create an efficient environment” for home, enterprise and industry use cases:
• smart homes to support health and social care for vulnerable people at home, providing access to assistive technologies like sensors and other IoT devices.
• digital skills and education thorugh better online and remote connectivity and distance learning across primary and secondary Schools within the local authority.
• manufacturing and Industry 4.0 to improve the supply chain for the automotive industry, including applications such as self-driving vehicles and autonomous heavy goods vehicles.
Brendan O’Reilly, Group Chief Technology Officer at BAI Communications, said, “Open RAN is a cost-effective solution which is based on open interfaces and will give us the ability to deploy in a very agile and flexible way”. This is surprising as the general perception in the market is that the economics of Open RAN are as yet unproven, despite some dramatic claims.
“We are creating a new digital fabric for Sunderland’s City, upon which the City’s digital and business entrepreneurs can build – a portfolio of new digital services for the benefits of residents, businesses and visitors”, added Andrew Conway, Director of Solutions and Innovation at BAI Communications UK.