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Baicells, Alef, Sky Packets team to take LTE networks across unserved communities

Community connectivity programme takes advantage of funding options and Private CBRS networks to deliver affordable broadband and digital equity for the unconnected

With the digital divide still a pressing issue in the US for both fixed and mobile connectivity, LTE and 5G cellular solutions provider Baicells Technologies has entered into a partnership with ALEF Edge and Sky Packets to launch a turnkey private LTE solution package that will provide connectivity to unserved communities in the country.

Putting the move into context, the firms said the digital divide was increasingly recognised as a critical barrier that was all too often holding back families and communities. They added that a lack of internet access hinders economic opportunity, education and job prospects, critical communications and much more. With multiple government agencies recognising this pervasive challenge today, billions of dollars of funding have been made available to states, cities and communities to close this divide and bring digital inclusion to more communities.

Indeed, in November 2021, the Biden administration’s US infrastructure bill set aside $65bn for broadband infrastructure deployment – one of the bill’s most significant IT impacts. The legislation was designed to give Americans access to high-speed internet at a lower cost. Its primary goal was to close the digital divide, a growing gap between individuals with access to modern communications technology and those without access, often in poor, rural, elderly and other underprivileged communities.

The Baicells, ALEF Edge and Sky Packets answer to address this issue is CommunityConnect, which they describe as a solution programme for digital equity. It takes the form of a scalable offering that uses CBRS spectrum and fixed wireless to deliver advanced broadband connectivity under new economics and across multiple environments – supporting both outdoor and indoor use cases.

CommunityConnect is designed to help communities use the available funding and identify a clear path to closing the digital divide. Understanding that the myriad programmes and technology options can be confusing, this programme is intended to offer guidance to deliver a successful outcome for the community, efficiently.

The turnkey solution bundle comprises Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), CBRS radios or wireless access points from Baicells, a managed control element from ALEF Edge, and ongoing service operation and support from Sky Packets. It is designed to be tailored to the individual needs of the community, and additional partners can also be brought in to help deliver components of specific use cases.

The bundle is based on a private fixed wireless network, based on LTE/CBRS cellular services, and gives users access to a broad range of applications, supporting high-speed data access, quality voice calls, video calls and device streaming. The partners assured that by using a CBRS private fixed wireless solution they could offer improved performance, favourable economics and faster time-to-service compared with legacy alternatives, such as Wi-Fi or fixed broadband.

“Too many communities across the US are falling behind because they lack affordable broadband connectivity,” remarked David Weber, senior policy analyst at PHADA – Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.

“It is critical that we now consider alternative models to change this, such as private fixed wireless. Investing in forward-thinking programmes can help citizens get connected cost-effectively – paying major dividends for both tenants and property owners over the long term.”

Baicells CEO Americas Minchul Ho added that cellular would no longer be the exclusive domain of major enterprises or wireless operators. “Advances in cellular technology have now made the required network elements affordable, compact, and much easier to deploy and operate, while also offering a path to next-generation functionality, like 5G and beyond,” said Ho.

“Amid significant federal investment, it is critical that underserved communities are supported when navigating the technology solutions available to them, and we are excited to offer this within our bundle for underserved [multi-dwelling] properties and neighbourhoods.”

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