Holding company Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) has agreed to acquire a majority stake in neutral host small cell operator Dense Air.
Dense Air acts as a ‘carrier of carriers’, providing shared wireless infrastructure that can support multiple operators at the same time. This aims to “transform the economics of connectivity” helping to close the digital divide and ensure inclusive 5G.
The acquisition is the first under SIP’s CoFi programme to expand open, shared connectivity through public-private partnerships.
“Ubiquitous connectivity is crucial for modern life,” said Jonathan Winer, co-CEO of SIP. “By expanding internet access and opening up previously uncompetitive markets in partnership with new and existing service providers, we can give consumers more seamless and affordable coverage.”
SIP launched last year as a spin-out of Sidewalk Labs and is backed by Google’s parent company Alphabet and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. It works to identify specific problems and “convene stakeholders across technology, finance and the public sector to find new models to deploy innovative infrastructure,” Winer told capitaltribunenews.com.
The company has worked with the State of Michigan on a corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), with the California electric grid on resident “virtual power plants” for grid resilience, and has backed the deployment of robotic recycling facilities.
“CoFi is [also] currently exploring adjacent technologies and projects where novel technologies can be deployed to help close the digital divide,” said Winer.
He added: “SIP seeks to finance the deployment of broadband infrastructure through new models of public-private partnership that ensure 5G networks are inclusive, ubiquitous and can prioritise key municipal use cases, such as education. Rather than building infrastructure for infrastructure’s sake, the CoFi model recognises that collaboration with cities and their stakeholders is needed to deliver real solutions.”
Dense Air has built wireless networks across Europe and Asia-Pacific, including a deployment in Cascais and a pilot in Dublin.
SIP and Dense Air plan to announce a US project soon that involves partnering with cities, with a focus on expanding high-speed wireless connectivity for students without access at home.
Airspan, a US-based provider of software and hardware for 5G networks, will retain a minority stake in Dense Air.
Image: Jian Fan | Dreamstime.com
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