Building more inclusive wireless networks: An interview with Brenna Berman

This summer, Dense Air welcomed Brenna Berman, a globally recognized expert on cities, technology, and urban innovation, as our Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. In this role, Brenna brings her public and private sector leadership experience to bear in identifying opportunities for Dense Air to partner with cities and harness our innovative technology to strengthen connectivity for all residents.

We recently sat down with Brenna to discuss her new role, why equitable wireless access is so important, how Dense Air partners with cities to advance digital equity, and more.

Welcome to Dense Air, Brenna! A major reason why you decided to join the company was the opportunity to focus on expanding access to wireless broadband. Can you explain what this means and why it’s important?

In today’s interconnected world, access to broadband is critical to enabling individuals to work, study, engage with their community, and more. Unfortunately, due to the traditional way that infrastructure has been structured and built, many communities across the country lack equitable access to broadband, including uneven wireless coverage. Without reliable connectivity to digital services, this digital divide exacerbates existing inequalities.

While we can all agree that closing the digital divide is important, the real challenge lies in making it happen. Expanding networks requires significant investments in physical infrastructure, such as fiber optic cables and cellular towers. Geographical remoteness and inadequate funding make it logistically difficult and economically unviable for private providers to extend services to areas that are already underserved, such as rural and low-income communities. And when providers do expand their networks, they pay a high price to build duplicative infrastructure that disrupts city life.

This sounds like a daunting challenge. How can we address it?

It’s time — in fact, it’s long overdue — for us to fundamentally rethink this system to make digital equity achievable. Through new technologies, strategic funding models, and innovative public-private partnerships, we can support communities in reaching this important goal.

Achieving broadband equity will require a concerted effort from governments, private sector entities, and communities to overcome infrastructure challenges while ensuring affordability. It will not be a quick and easy process, but it will help to bring us closer to having an inclusive and equitable society.

What role does Dense Air play in this effort to advance broadband equity?

Dense Air is uniquely positioned to help communities tackle this critically important challenge because we take a holistic new approach to enabling carriers to expand their wireless networks. Our solution focuses on four main pillars:

  1. We deploy and operate innovative shared network infrastructure, which introduces, for the first time, the unique ability for multiple wireless network operators and private users to utilize the network simultaneously. This decreases the cost of building and managing the wireless networks over time.
  2. We leverage existing physical infrastructure, such as light poles, utility poles, and roofs, to reduce the cost of building the network, to deploy faster, and to reduce disruption to the community.
  3. We use data-driven coverage gap analysis to help us understand where a community lacks coverage today and to build a roadmap for the future. Our denseWare analytics tool evaluates coverage at the call level to help us and communities determine where best to make investments.
  4. We think holistically with our investments, which allows us and our partners to build a balanced business case across entire cities, not just the wealthiest neighborhoods.

How does Dense Air work with cities and other key stakeholders?

Combining technology innovation with strategic funding models is an excellent start to solving cities’ network challenges, but it isn’t enough. I know from years of experience as the Chief Information Officer of Chicago that cities can only achieve their innovation goals with strong partnerships based on aligned incentives.  That’s why, at Dense Air, we are focused on creating highly collaborative partnerships with cities as we help them solve intractable challenges. Through these partnerships, we contribute our technology and ingenuity to create new business opportunities. In turn, the cities and communities share infrastructure assets and help us streamline processes to drive down the overall cost and time of network deployment. As a result, communities receive reliable and affordable broadband access, in a shorter timeframe and with less disruption.  

Digital equity has been a rallying cry for cities for many years, but today, we have the ideal conditions to achieve the networks of the future that residents deserve. Dense Air is focused on delivering that future, and we look forward to partnering with the cities that share our vision.

Open RAN: Driving Innovation and Diversity in Tomorrow’s 5G Networks

Earlier this month, key stakeholders from across the telecom space gathered in New Orleans at the Connect (X) Conference to discuss a broad range of issues and opportunities shaping the future of the industry. One of the most widely discussed and debated topics this year was the introduction and execution of Open RAN, interoperable technologies that enable a more diverse, resilient, and secure ecosystem for radio access networks.      

At Dense Air, we’re delighted to see our industry increasingly turn its focus to the opportunities unlocked by Open RAN technologies, an area where we’ve long been focused, and which is at the core of our business. We believe that the widespread adoption of Open RAN is critical to closing the digital divide and making connectivity more open, shared, and inclusive.

Paul Trubridge, Dense Air’s SVP of Global Solutions, shared our perspective on the main stage:      

In many instances, the economics of a mobile network operator (MNO) building out its network is broken, which is why we see areas where coverage and capacity are limited. This is especially true for the mid-band 5G, where the revenue per user (RPU) advantages from 5G aren’t enough to fund overlays for each individual operator. RAN sharing fundamentally changes the economics and solves this problem: when RAN infrastructure is shared by multiple MNOs or mixed public/private use cases, the costs per operator are significantly reduced.

Open RAN architecture is built with scalability as a primary goal. It allows for multiple operators and mixed-use cases, which means that multiple vendors can use a single network site. For instance, Open RAN supports MORAN (Multi Operator RAN), which allows all the infrastructure except the radio carriers — the antenna, tower, site, and power — to be shared by multiple mobile operators. Open RAN also supports MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network), which is similar but allows two or more network operators to share the carriers as well. Because Open RAN technologies are highly customizable, they create the building blocks for a system that can remain scalable and reliable, even as network demand increases.

Thanks to cloud computing, Open RAN architecture also allows for virtualization — meaning the use of dedicated hardware with flexible software components that can scale the network. If the RAN footprint needs to expand or new service providers want to be hosted or new use cases emerge, we have the ability to do that without investing in expensive new hardware.

Finally, Dense Air’s use of Open RAN architecture also allows the network to use a range of vendors, as opposed to being locked in to one vendor in perpetuity. For instance, we can mix-and-match radio units and scale up or down using hyper-scaler software technology. Because Dense Air can do this without having to install new physical infrastructure, we can ensure that the network uses the best suppliers for the task at hand, increasing vendor diversity and reducing supply chain risks.

Taken together, through our early adoption of Open RAN technology, we have created a future-proof solution. By allowing for multiple vendors, virtualizing key components, and allowing multiple operators to leverage the same hardware, we’re building a solution that can expand as a population’s needs expand — deployments that can stand the test of time.

We’re excited to see others across our industry increasingly start to appreciate the innovation and opportunities that Open RAN technologies can unlock.

– Ken Czosnowski, EVP Business Development

Dense Air Working with the New Zealand Government to Explore Accelerating 5G Connectivity Nationwide

Dense Air is negotiating an administrative allocation of 3.5 GHz spectrum to help bring 5G connectivity to under-served areas of New Zealand.

The government of New Zealand has taken welcome steps to close the digital divide — and to enable New Zealand to become a leader in 5G network access across both populous cities and remote rural towns and communities. 

Holistic 5G coverage requires an unprecedented densification of radio access points, yet deployments that extend connectivity to rural regions and address city coverage gaps can be difficult and costly. Dense Air promotes and provides shared network infrastructure “as-a-Service” to help incumbent service providers deliver on these goals faster and more economically than traditional approaches allow. 

Dense Air’s shared, small-cell infrastructure doesn’t replace existing networks — it augments and extends them. Today, providers often have difficulty in reaching remote areas economically, and providing high-quality coverage to all corners of densely populated cities. Often, the investment required is not viable for a single service provider, and even with government initiatives for rural builds, such deployments are expensive to maintain. Dense Air’s neutral host radio access network addresses these issues by providing a seamless extension of the existing service providers’ networks, using shared infrastructure — economically increasing network density and offering ubiquitous coverage in places that might otherwise be left behind.

Today, we’re proud to announce that Dense Air, the world’s leading provider of shared 4G and 5G neutral host radio access network infrastructure, will work alongside Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to address mobile coverage challenges in under-served areas. CIP is the public entity established to manage the government of New Zealand’s investment in broadband infrastructure and seeks to facilitate the faster delivery of 4G and 5G services in rural communities across the country. 

The government has agreed to progress discussions around the provision of 3.5 GHz spectrum to Dense Air, subject to the outcome of final negotiations. Dense Air plans to use this spectrum, in partnership with the mobile service providers, to help extend and densify networks across the country. Thanks to the government’s work program, more New Zealanders will be better served by 5G connections, ensuring access to the same quality of mobile services as those in New Zealand’s more populated areas. 

Dense Air plans to work with the government through CIP to identify key rural locations of economic and community significance — including visitor sites, small towns, and other currently under-served communities — and to build a single shared network in these areas capable of broadcasting the services of each of the service providers. In parallel with these rural rollouts, Dense Air will deliver new, high-capacity neutral host infrastructure to provide coverage and capacity in under-served urban and suburban areas, and work with the government to identify the best applications for Dense Air technology in other settings.

Dense Air has been active in New Zealand since 2018. During this time Dense Air has successfully completed initial network integrations, technical trials, and production deployments. Since 2021, Dense Air’s solutions have been in commercial operation in New Zealand in diverse applications such as corporate offices and shopping malls. This next step into 5G neutral host solutions greatly expands the applicability of Dense Air’s solutions to the New Zealand market, allowing  Dense Air to expand and enhance New Zealand’s 4G and 5G network reach — providing connectivity where it’s needed.

Dense Air is a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a company that combines differentiated technology with precedent-setting infrastructure projects to address critical societal needs. Dense Air operates within SIP’s CoFi innovation platform, which aims to make connectivity more open, shared, and inclusive through public-private partnerships.

Read more here

A new leader for a growing team

Dense Air was founded to challenge the status quo of today’s wireless communications infrastructure. Using small cell networks to enhance and extend networks built by incumbent telecom companies, Dense Air has a vision to scale equitable mobile broadband access to communities, increasing opportunities across education, healthcare and employment.

We are thrilled to announce that Richard Staveley, who shares our vision and aspirations, has joined our team. Taking on the role of President, he will oversee and lead Dense Air’s growing team in the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.

Richard brings with him years of valuable experience growing companies across the complete business lifecycle from incorporation to exit. Most recently CEO of ip.access, he led its strategic turnaround resulting in the acquisition of ip.access by Mavenir. He previously held executive roles at Stratto (now part of Freshwave), Ubiquisys (now part of Cisco) and IPWireless (now part of General Dynamics).

Five months ago, we announced Dense Air’s acquisition by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP). Operating under SIP’s CoFi innovation platform, we’re helping to build the future of equitable 5G broadband access. Since the acquisition, our team has doubled in size, and we continue to attract talent across engineering, software and business development roles.

“I am delighted to join the Dense Air team to help bring equitable broadband to more communities. I look forward to working closely with the teams in the UK, Europe and Asia and build upon Dense Air’s remarkable work to date to grow the business internationally. Through building partnerships, we will enable cities to achieve their goals of scaling technology necessary to bridge the gaps in wireless communications infrastructure. Broadband and cellular should be available and accessible to all, and I am excited to lead Dense Air’s international team as we bring stable access to the communities that need it most.”

Richard Staveley, President of Dense Air

As President of Dense Air, Richard is responsible for all regions outside of the USA, including the development of Dense Air’s 5G CoFi solution, and the execution of P3s (Public Private Partnerships) with cities, municipalities and local authorities.

The small cell 5G network market has grown significantly in recent years and is expected to grow further, from USD$626 million in 2020 to USD$2.4 billion by 2025. As the market grows, Dense Air’s model of using small cell networks enables real change, scaling a new deployment model of broadband in which no one is left behind.

Deploying small cells discreetly on street lights, street furniture and/or rooftops across city districts, campuses and private neighbourhoods is proven to provide high-speed, high-performance cellular coverage over hundreds or thousands of feet. This supports better coverage closer to users, eases network congestion, and improves access in areas where macro service deteriorates, to bring stable access to all communities.

Get in touch if our vision matches yours. We have open roles across a range of departments, ideal for people who are goal-driven innovators who enjoy a new challenge and will excel in a globally growing team.

Visit our website for more information: or contact

Dense Air Networks To Be Acquired by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners

Dense Air Networks builds and operates wireless infrastructure as a service, transforming the economics of connectivity and delivering to unserved and underserved communities the same capacity, speed, and service as the best parts of mobile carriers’ 5G networks. Dense Air Networks is proud to announce that it will be acquired by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), the company pioneering technology-enabled sustainable and inclusive infrastructure. This move will accelerate Dense Air’s mission of expanding connectivity with wireless infrastructure as a service.

Dense Air is pleased to announce that it has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP). The company will operate within SIP’s CoFi innovation platform, which aims to make connectivity more open, shared, and inclusive through public-private partnerships (P3s). With Dense Air’s spectrum assets, public-private partnerships, and track record of expanding connectivity, this acquisition will accelerate Dense Air’s mission of providing cost-effective 4G and 5G solutions and densifying and extending mobile networks to support a range of use cases, including enhanced mobile broadband, IoT, public safety, first responder networks, and remote learning.

SIP’s CoFi platform focuses on building shared wireless infrastructure, in partnership with cities, that provides better economics for broadband carriers and better connectivity for users. Today’s broadband can be improved using recent technological advances, including improvements to radio access networks (RANs), the introduction of open standards, virtualization and software-defined networking. Taken together, these technologies can help create ubiquitous, shared, ‘neutral host’ infrastructure. Instead of carriers fighting to build networks atop networks and benefitting only those already connected, CoFi believes that this infrastructure of the future can deliver value to all stakeholders while advancing broadband access equity.

Dense Air builds, owns, and operates secure and shared “small cell” networks that efficiently enhance and extend the traditional “macro” networks built by incumbent mobile network operators. Small cells, deployed discreetly on streetlights or rooftops, provide high-speed, high-performance cellular coverage over hundreds or thousands of feet. A small cell network supports better coverage closer to the user, complementing macro cells by easing network congestion and reaching areas where macro service deteriorates. 

Dense Air’s unique technology allows multiple network operators to securely share the same infrastructure, driving down costs for service providers and municipalities alike while delivering high-speed connectivity—an approach congruent with CoFi’s shared ‘neutral host’ infrastructure. Dense Air’s small cell network makes it more efficient for multiple carriers to operate in underserved areas, securely sharing the resources of a single small cell. It’s a solution that improves the economics of deployment and operations for carriers, reduces the total infrastructure needs, and ultimately gives consumers more choices. 

“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. We look forward to partnering with service providers, local governments, and other stakeholders to understand the unique needs of each community in which we operate. Like every other type of infrastructure, broadband has no one-size-fits-all solution.”

“The densification of cellular networks to complete the rollout of gigabit 5G services is an immense global challenge, both technically and commercially,” said Paul Senior, founder and CEO of Dense Air. “Our unique shared infrastructure enables communities and carriers to build future-proof radio networks that are economically attractive and help solve digital divide problems that plague today’s 5G network builds. For mobile network operators, Dense Air’s technology enables efficient, economically-attractive, and robust network enhancement and extension. When paired with the CoFi P3 model, our technology becomes a powerful tool for closing the digital divide through community-centered, sustainable fixed wireless networks.”

SIP and Dense Air will soon announce an inaugural US-based project that involves partnering with cities to increase coverage of high-speed wireless connectivity, with a focus on expanding access for typically underserved communities, such as students without connectivity at home.

About Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP):

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) pioneers technology-enabled infrastructure that is more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive. SIP’s innovation platforms combine differentiated technology with precedent-setting infrastructure projects to address critical societal needs. SIP leverages strategic and flexible capital and resources from its partner network of the leading authorities in technology (Alphabet) and infrastructure (OTPP).
For more information, visit

About Dense Air: 

Dense Air builds and operates unique “carrier of carriers” neutral host small cell wireless infrastructure services to solve connectivity challenges for existing network operators and extend their mobile networks. Through innovative public-private partnerships with cities, Dense Air delivers cost-effective 4G and 5G solutions to support a range of use cases with a single secure RAN infrastructure, including enhanced mobile broadband, IoT, public safety, first responder networks, and remote learning.