BAI Communications will lead an open radio access network (ORAN) working group under the NSW government’s project to improve regional mobile coverage.
Back in April, the company was one of eight selected to develop mobile infrastructure sharing for the Department of Regional NSW’s active sharing partnership program, the first stage of the state government’s mobile coverage program.
As well as the ORAN working group, which also includes Optus and NEC, the project asks participants to develop multi-operator radio access network (MORAN) and multi-operator core network (MOCN) models, which are the focus of separate working groups.
OneWifi & Infrastructure identified itself as leading the MORAN stream in a submission [pdf] to the ACCC's inquiry into the TPG-Telstra infrastructure sharing deal; to date, no company has named itself as leading the MOCN group.
The ORAN working group is currently designing a pilot program that can be deployed to several regional blackspot sites, BAI Communications said.
The company said preliminary commercial and delivery models were presented to the Department of Regional NSW in June.
Technical solutions – the role of the various working groups – are to be presented in August, along with refined commercial and deployment models.
The NSW government will evaluate what’s on offer, and will ask for detailed proposals on solutions it deems viable later in 2022.
BAI Communications said it favours ORAN because it’s a model that can support either MORAN or MOCN deployments.
ORAN defines interoperability at different points in the base station, so carriers operate their own core networks to the site but share radio spectrum to connect customers.
In MORAN, operators use their own spectrum but share everything else at a site; while in MOCN, operators share radio spectrum and access components.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said regional communities deserve reliable and affordable mobile services.
“The NSW Government is committed to trialling innovative approaches to ensure our regional communities have access to high standard mobile coverage, no matter where they live," Toole said.
“Network sharing reduces the need to build additional mobile towers across the landscape, reduces costs for telecommunications providers and ensures everyone can access their mobile phone no matter their provider."
Once the $50 million Stage 1 of the project is complete, the NSW government has committed a further $250 million in rolling out successful models to blackspots throughout the state.