This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Bevan Brittan advise Sunderland City Council on 5G smart city project

Bevan Brittan advise Sunderland City Council on 5G smart city project


Sunderland will be one of the UK's most advanced 'smart' cities following the project

Top 100 law firm Bevan Brittan has advised Sunderland City Council on a 20-year strategic partnership with BAI Communications UK to design, build and operate digital infrastructure that will make Sunderland one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities.

The project is the first of its kind in the UK. The first phase will establish a ‘backbone’ of 5G connectivity, based on a neutral host model, within the city by summer 2022. A small 5G ring has been installed at a site on the outskirts of Sunderland. 

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, a global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure, said the partnership will "completely transform the city, accelerating Sunderland’s ambitions to become one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities, connecting people, communities and businesses”.

The partnership said the 5G coverage will provide a platform for business growth and innovation and bring substantial social and economic benefit to residents, businesses and visitors, including the creation of over 100 jobs.

As part of the project, autonomous vehicles will be enabled at the city’s Nissan site. The council aims to use the 5G technology in areas like traffic management, sensors to monitor pollution and sensors for people in assisted living homes.

Chief executive of Sunderland City Council, Patrick Melia, said: “This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City. We are very much looking forward to our 20-year strategic partnership with BAI, as its team helps us realise our ambitions and make our goals a reality.

“We are confident the benefits of this partnership will reach every resident, organisation and business within our city and indeed the wider area.”

Bevan Brittan advised on procurement, contracts and negotiations for the local authority in its partnership with BAI Communications and also advised on the 5G element of the project.

The team had to create contracts to cover the ground-breaking nature of the technology deal and ensure compliance with existing telecoms legislation. They are also assisting with requirements to vary existing PFI agreements to enable the 5G technology to be fitted to the city’s street lights.

Richard Lane, partner and technology law expert at Bevan Brittan, led the team. He said: “We’re delighted to have been able to help Sunderland take the lead in this exciting partnership to develop cutting-edge 5G technology for thousands of people and businesses.

“The neutral host element of this project is particularly interesting as it will mean that all mobile providers can buy capacity. Many other councils are waiting for mobile networks themselves to install 5G, but the issue is that it is much more expensive than 4G or 3G networks because it needs more equipment.

“Sunderland has shown real innovation in going down the neutral host route and will be able to roll out its 5G faster, with benefits for people, businesses and also to anyone looking to invest in the area. It’s been a fascinating project to support with and we will continue to support the council as this develops.”