BAI and ZenFi plan to connect their diverse assets into a ‘homogenized’ portfolio offering for mobile operators
BAI Communications recently announced the close of its acquisition of ZenFi Networks, which means that the former has obtained the latter’s portfolio of assets, including over 1,100 route miles of fiber network throughout the New York and New Jersey metro region. The CEOs of both companies — Igor LePrince of BAI and Ray LaChance of ZenFi — sat down with RCR Wireless News to provide more insight into why the acquisition makes “perfect sense.”
“ZenFi fits into three of the four key pillars of our strategy,” LePrince shared. The pillars, he continued, are: Next-generation networks, in the form of small cells, which is the majority of what ZenFi does; 2) connected enterprise and venue; and connected cities and communities, which the pair said is “arguably” what ZenFi is doing with fiber in New York City.
LePrince added that while ZenFi’s portfolio doesn’t currently include BAI’s last pillar —connected transport — it certainly compliments it. “That’s the reason we’re excited and it goes back to our strong belief in small cell fiber 5G adoption,” he said.
ZenFi’s NYC fiber network connects into major data centers and points of presence in 65 network edge colocation facilities, a critical component of its C-RAN infrastructure. The company also contracts with wireless carrier customers in the region and the rights to provide mobile infrastructure solutions across 4,000 LinkNYC kiosk structures through its partnership with the CityBridge consortium. With the acquisition squared away, the BAI Group can participate in Link5G, the next phase of LinkNYC, a communications network that has replaced payphones across New York City with kiosks equipped with free high-speed Wi-Fi, maps, connections to city services and device charging at no cost to users.
“I’d like to characterize what we were doing in our microcosm of New York City is building connected infrastructure to enable smart city and … [a] fabric for wireless connectivity,” ZenFi’s LaChance explained. He went on to say that the opportunity to join forces with BAI represented a critical “convergence” of commercial and technology assets.
“What we’re doing on the street compliments what BAI [Via its Transit Wireless acquisition] has been doing in transit systems and what Mobilitie [also owned by BAI] is doing with venues and their street level business,” he said. “The convergence of our three businesses makes perfect sense to create continuity of coverage. It’s very compelling.”
Looking ahead, the companies plan to connect their diverse connectivity assets into a “homogenized” portfolio offering for mobile operators. “We’re going to have new opportunities to take all of these complimentary assets, which on their edges they may conflict, but when tied together, create this homogenized fabric of connected infrastructure,” LaChance said, adding that this will enable “cool stuff” like an expanded Wi-Fi network and new technologies.
Similarly, BAI brings a great deal of connected community expertise from its work in the U.K. where it’s partnering with the Transport for London (TfL) in what is considered one of the most advanced and largest smart city projects in the world. According to LaChance, such projects will help infrm how to create similar ecosystmes in the New York metro market, and eventually, the rest of the U.S. “There are really exciting things down the road,” he said.
News of the agreement between the two companies was first announced on July 26 of this year.