Airport Business

AUG-SEP 2018

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August/September 2018 airportbusiness 15 COMMUNICATIONS High-frequency millimeter waves, which will be part of 5G’s DNA, are driving hyper-densification, because they are capable of delivering extreme data speeds and capacity to reshape connectivity. The challenge though is millimeter waves have poor transmission — they are susceptible to blockage and typically can’t penetrate walls. To solve this, airports will be hard pressed to add more base stations, antennas and access points. Wi-Fi Innovation is Heating Up Unlicensed spectrum technologies like Wi-Fi are proliferating at airports because of the flexibility they offer, large swath of airwaves they make available and the broad use cases they can power. Looking ahead, the Internet of Things (IoT) will see significant benefit from Wi-Fi, where applications like smart sensors will improve ground operations, security checkpoints, runway monitoring, baggage handling and building management. Compared to traditional LTE, Wi-Fi has a lower cost of infrastructure, reduced latency, more throughput, can serve all endpoints respective of carrier affiliation and is easier to deploy, making it a must have for airport wireless coverage. And the next generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, presents even more exciting opportunities, as this new standard is engineered to handle an increased number of devices on a single network. 802.11ax will be significantly faster and less congested, while boasting new features like target wake time scheduling, which helps improve battery life. The technology works best in dense network environments and we can expect the standard to start making its way into Wi-Fi chipsets as early as this year. Outside of 802.11ax, there is 802.11ad is hitting the market, which is built for high-bandwidth, short-range scenarios. These new advancements allow us to boast greater spectral efficiency to handle more mobile complexities — which is required for airports to keep up in the new connected world. Fast, Dense Networks Win Out Speed, coverage, capacity, security and availability are all attributes that must be present in an airport wireless network to meet and exceed passenger expectations. Fast speeds are paramount; however, the assumption cannot be the higher the number, the better the experience. Consider that the recommended speed to stream a Netflix movie in HD is 5 Mbps and there are few instances where a user requires more speed than that. Accommodate speeds that match travelers’ mobile activities and look to other features like density and coverage to round out an optimal user experience. Density is key for ensuring networks do not get overloaded during peak traffic, whether an overcrowded gate or the height of holiday travel season. Coverage must be present to deliver connectivity throughout the airport — from taxi cab to boarding gate to baggage claim. But the network feature at the top of the list is robust security, an important matter that should be prioritized at every level of an airport’s organization. Security is Crucial Security starts with prevention planning. Encrypting critical systems, adding security policies and backing up systems should be a standard protocol for airport IT teams. Diligence in ongoing security training should be a recurring habit as well, but third-party service providers are what can make a big difference in adding further security to protect and safeguard wireless systems against threats. As many major airports are owned and operated by public entities, they may be more vulnerable to an attack if the network is managed in-house. Alternatively, when the network is run outside of the airport and governing municipality, there is an independent layered security architecture that can help prevent a system from being compromised and immediately remedy a situation should there be an instance. Security is an incredibly serious matter and if your airport’s protocols are in question, contact a third-party expert to review how they can be improved upon. Convergence is the Future As wireless expands its role through new technologies, convergence and interoperability come into focus. The unified aggregation of multiple spectrum bands — converging licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum — is approaching, where consumers will not know if their connectivity is coming from Wi-Fi or cellular bands, as networks will be Density is key for ensuring networks do not get overloaded during peak traffic, whether an overcrowded gate or the height of holiday travel season

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