BAI eyes North American expansion with Mobilitie acquisition

New York subway
BAI expects the deal to close in the third quarter of 2021. (Getty Images)

BAI Communications is beefing up growth in North America, announcing plans to acquire U.S. neutral host provider Mobilitie.

Mobilitie is the largest privately held neutral host infrastructure provider in the U.S., with a portfolio that includes networks at 220 venues, 10,000 small cells and 300 tower sites. It helps provide connectivity through indoor and outdoor neutral host distributed antenna systems (DAS), small cells, and Wi-Fi networks.

Transit is of particular interest as BAI looks to capitalize on smart city infrastructure opportunities from 5G services. Headquartered in Australia, BAI is the infrastructure host for cellular and Wi-Fi in major subway systems around the world, including Toronto and Hong Kong, as well as New York City where it holds a majority stake in Transit Wireless.

BAI also is looking to expand its international presence, including the U.K. Earlier this month it won a 20-year award to build and operate a neutral host communications network, enabling mobile operators to deliver 4G, and eventually 5G services, across the London Underground. The project establishes backbone connectivity, with a city-wide integrated network for multi-carrier cellular, Wi-Fi and fiber services.

Mobilitie, meanwhile, has existing agreements to deliver wireless systems for public transit in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

BAI Communications Group CEO Igor Leprince said in a statement that the acquisition establishes the company as “the most relevant provider of public transit wireless connectivity solutions in North America” and a leading telecom infrastructure provider in the U.S.

“This reflects our ambitions for the US as well as the other markets in which we operate globally and puts us in the perfect position to capitalize on the growing prioritization of connected infrastructure in regions such as the UK and Europe,” Leprince continued. “The scale and strong relationships with large venue operators and mobile network operators that Mobilitie brings fits perfectly with BAI's existing leadership in connected transit and infrastructure.”

RELATED: Dish strikes deals for 4K more towers in 5G network build

Mobilitie also has a presence at large entertainment and sporting venues, like the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Last November the company struck a strategic partnership to help deploy 5G service at the 20,000-seat arena, incorporating millimeter wave spectrum in the 39 GHz and 28 GHz bands.

Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, Mobilitie was among several private infrastructure partners named by Dish, that are collectively providing 4,000 macro tower sites in the U.S. for its planned 5G network build.

Among its small cell portfolio, thousands are in New York, located in and around BAI’s existing assets.

Gary Jabara, founder and chairman of Mobilite, said in a statement that the combination of BAI’s international presence and Mobilitie’s U.S. assets, including small cells “make us better positioned for 5G growth than anyone else in North America.”

Mobilitie currently has approximately 150 employees. The company will operate 'business as usual' for the foreseeable future, according to a BAI spokesperson. 

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Updated with number of Mobilitie employees and continued operations.