Airport Business

NOV 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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22 airportbusiness November 2018 COVER STORY “What we wanted for the airport was free Wi-Fi,” Ross Higashi, deputy director of airports for HDOT said. “Especially for the international travelers, they ask for Wi-Fi and that’s a big addition to the customer experience here.” The push for free Wi-Fi at Hawaii’s airports didn’t start with customers, but from the state legislature. Higashi said lawmakers determined the state’s commercial airports needed Wi-Fi and directed him to come up with a solution. Hawaii doesn’t have an airport authority overlooking the facilities, so changes are dictated by the state. “Every other airport has free Wi-Fi today,” he said. “It wasn’t mandated, it was just that they were pushing it and they would call us and say that we need to get free Wi-Fi.” HDOT is rolling out the Wi-Fi and DAS systems across all of Hawaii’s commercial service airports by the end of the year. Kahului Airport (OGG), Hilo International Airport (ITO), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) and Lihue Airport (LIH) all lacked Wi-Fi service prior to the project. Higashi said HDOT started with HNL for free Wi-Fi because it has 10 million enplanements per year and has been the traditional hub of commercial air service in the state. However, airline patterns have shifted in recent years and more are traveling direct to the other airports, meaning the service is important there as well. “Everybody is kind of like a hub now, except Hilo,” he said. “[Honolulu] is still the hub, but it’s not the only hub.” The Wi-Fi was set up with a DAS system to create a more powerful network across the airports. “Everybody no matter who your carrier is will have a stronger signal strength with your cellphone coverage,” Higashi said. HNL switched from its previous Wi-Fi provider to Boingo in December. Higashi said the system is stronger and is free for users, which was a key aspect leaders were looking for. Users of the Wi-Fi watch a 30 second commercial and then have access to the Internet, which is provided at 5 Mbps speed. Passengers looking for a stronger system can pay for 10 Mbps. Danielle Aiello, vice president of account management for Boingo, said construction began on the Boingo Wi-Fi project at HNL in July 2017. It was completed in time to do a limited rollout of the network prior to the holiday season. “They absolutely wanted fast, free Wi-Fi throughout all public space,” she said. Both of the installation teams also needed to coordinate with ongoing construction teams at HNL to make sure passengers were able to move around the terminal uninterrupted. They coordinated with HNL to ensure efficiency and to make sure movements were not interrupted during peak traveler times. Boingo has deployed wireless services throughout Hawaii's commercial airport system as part of efforts to improve the passenger experience. WHAT IS DAS? • Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) boost cellular connectivity in heavily trafficked locations, like airports • Improves cellular signal strength and increases network capacity for voice and data users • Works by deploying hundreds of small antennae throughout an airport and integrating them into a cohesive cellular network • Neutral host DAS networks can see participation from all Tier 1 wireless carriers for an optimal connected experience Source: Boingo Wireless Photo: Daeja Fallas

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