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Airport 5G: An Executive Guide to Next-Generation Wireless

By Team Boingo
  • Article
  • 5 min read


The next generation of airport wireless is here, changing the technology landscape and accelerating innovation. To keep up with passenger demands and operational efficiencies, major airports must provide reliable, secure and robust connectivity for passengers, staff, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and beyond. 5G rises to the challenge.

Learn how to navigate airport 5G technologies in this executive guide.



SITA recently analyzed the biggest trends that will shape the transportation industry over the next decade. The report found that the arrival of 5G and the maturation of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions will bring much change that forces the aviation industry to respond. These changes may include:

  • Improved baggage handling: AI can be used to improve baggage handling processes, reducing lost baggage incidents and improving the overall passenger experience. For example, AI-powered systems can track baggage in real-time and ensure that it is loaded onto the correct flight.
  • Improved safety and security: AI can be used to analyze large amounts of data to identify potential safety and security risks, enabling airports to take proactive measures to mitigate them.
  • Optimization of operations: AI can help airports optimize their operations, reducing costs and improving efficiency. For example, AI can be used to analyze data on flight routes, weather patterns, and passenger demand to optimize flight schedules and reduce delays. AI-powered chatbots can also be used to automate customer service inquiries and reduce wait times for passengers.
  • Enhanced maintenance and repair: AI can help airlines improve their maintenance and repair processes, reducing downtime and increasing aircraft availability. For example, AI-powered predictive maintenance can be used to identify potential issues before they become critical, allowing airlines to schedule repairs proactively.

From AI to a growing reliance on digital tools for travel efficiency and convenience, it is simply not possible to meet these expectations without a seamless and secure wireless network. Airports require next generation 5G infrastructure to support complex and rapid digital transformation.



5G specifications address dense areas, which directly applies to airport use cases. The attributes of an airport’s 5G network depend on various factors such as the airport’s size, traffic volume, and specific use cases. However, here are some of the general attributes that an airport’s 5G network should have:

  • High-speed connectivity: 5G networks should offer fast and reliable internet connectivity, providing passengers and airport staff with a seamless user experience.
  • High capacity: 5G networks should be designed to handle high volumes of traffic, especially during peak travel times when the number of passengers and devices connected to the network increases.
  • Low latency: 5G networks should offer low-latency connections, allowing real-time interactions and facilitating the use of applications.
  • Wide coverage: 5G networks should offer wide coverage across the entire airport, including boarding gates, concourses, baggage claims, lounges, and other areas that passengers and airport staff frequent.
  • Security: 5G networks should have robust security measures in place to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.
  • Flexibility and scalability: 5G networks should be flexible and scalable, allowing airports to adapt to changing demands and requirements.
  • Integration with existing systems: 5G networks should be designed to integrate with existing airport systems and infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi, private 5G networks, baggage handling systems or security cameras.

In summary, an airport’s 5G network should be designed to offer fast, reliable, and secure connectivity to passengers and airport staff, while also being flexible, scalable, and able to integrate with existing systems.



The passenger experience is now the connected passenger experience. While traveling, passengers are nearly always connected to their smartphones. They rely on the devices to manage travel logistics like checking in, dropping off baggage, presenting boarding passes, receiving status updates, streaming entertainment and staying connected through the journey. Every one of these touchpoints is enhanced by 5G’s fast network speeds and low latency.

5G also enables a touchless travel experience, largely sparked by the global pandemic’s health and safety guidelines. These solutions include self-service facial recognition and biometrics for contactless security checkpoints, in-app ordering and delivery of concessions, robotic and automated clearing and maintenance processes and proximity-based passenger communications.

Critical airport operations that rely upon complex connections and rapid data transmission between systems benefit from 5G. For example, 5G can allow bag reconciliation systems to connect with baggage scanners and an extensive array of digital signage to carry passengers smoothly through the travel journey. The networks can also seamlessly connect the airport apron, terminal operations, contractor delivery logistics, airport concessions and retail stores.



5G technologies include multiple solutions. Here are the three types of wireless networks airports require in the 5G era.

Public 5G – DAS, Small Cells
Airports require distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cell deployments to boost 5G signals, eliminate dead zones located both above ground and below ground and inside and outside. Read our blog, Distributed Antenna Systems for Airports & Transportation, to learn more about DAS and small cells for airports.

Private 5G
Airports need private 5G networks to segment mission-critical connectivity solutions from public and commercial ones. Private 5G networks are flexible, scalable and fully optimizable for unique demands. For more about airport private 5G networks, read our blog, Boosting Transportation Operations with Private 5G.

Wi-Fi 6/6E
The sixth generation of Wi-Fi ushers in a new era of innovation, particularly for airports. Wi-Fi 6/6E can power advanced 5G services with high speeds, low latency, power efficiency, scalability and improved security. To learn more about Wi-Fi 6/6E for airports, read our press release, Boingo Deploys Wi-Fi 6 at John Wayne Airport.



With the right technology, 5G can bring an environment to life. Take, for example, the state-of-the-art converged network deployment Boingo implemented at Newark Liberty International Airport’s (EWR) brand-new Terminal A, featuring Wi-Fi 6, cellular DAS, and private LTE.

According to Robert Galvin, Chief Technology Officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: “Boingo Wireless has deployed a world-class network that fulfills passenger demand for fast, seamless connectivity while providing a robust backbone to support digital airport operations. Newark Terminal A combines leading wireless technologies to create a tech-forward experience for travelers and airport employees.”



Boingo Wireless is the largest operator of airport distributed antenna system (DAS) and Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. We help connect over 1 billion travelers. Learn how to elevate your airport operations and digital transformation by contacting us at