The Good Stuff
Airport Wireless Networks That Improve the Passenger Experience
- 3 min read
A wireless network is an internet system that facilitates device connections without the need for cords or wires. Many different types of devices, machines and instruments can utilize wireless networks to access the internet, each other, and other networks. The devices can maintain connectivity as they move throughout a facility or even between buildings. To meet the baseline needs of modern airport operations and the passenger experience, nearly every transportation facility could benefit from wireless networks for internet connectivity.
WHY DO AIRPORTS NEED WIRELESS NETWORKS FOR VISITORS, STAFF, AND THINGS?
Airports require wireless networks so that passengers can access the internet, vendors can conduct business, and critical systems within the Internet of Things (IoT) can operate appropriately and efficiently. Furthermore, airlines, baggage handlers, security personnel, and air traffic controllers all need strong, secure wireless internet connections to carry out their respective tasks.
Now that internet access is considered a basic life necessity, airports without robust wireless networks may be avoided by travelers while those with substantial wireless networks can lead to higher volumes of passenger traffic. Integrated tools such as airport maps and QR code menus can guide passengers to shops and restaurants within the airports, this can improve the passenger experience and boost revenue for the airport.
Additionally, passengers need wireless networks so that the time spent waiting in the airport can be used productively and enjoyably. Many passengers are traveling for business purposes, and it is important that these travelers can continue working throughout their trip. With high-speed internet connectivity, business travelers can work in the lounges, at the gates, and in the food courts. Strong, secure internet access is imperative especially when lengthy waits for connecting flights or delays can be unavoidable. Passengers who are embarking on vacations or returning from adventures enjoy wireless networks so they can share the stories of their travels with friends, family and social media followers.
Airport staff such as caterers, flight crews, mechanics, cleaners, baggage handlers, and security personnel rely upon airport wireless networks to communicate with colleagues, supervisors, and corporate networks. Airport wireless networks are critical for staff to provide services and operate efficiently. Retailers need wireless networks to process customer transactions and maintain inventory. Restaurants need wireless networks to communicate guest orders to the bar and kitchen, process payment, and manage supplies. Mechanics need wireless networks to communicate with dispatchers and access service orders. The needs for internet connectivity are endless and quickly growing.
Devices included in the massive network of airport management can all be connected and managed through the IoT. Airport wireless networks provide the cellular infrastructure to connect all of these moving parts, coordinate technologies, track performance, and strategically enhance the complex systems involved in airport operations. Biometric systems, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart technologies are all being implemented to digitally transform air transportation. A strong, secure, reliable wireless network is the backbone to support these rapidly developing technologies.
HOW DO AIRPORTS WIRELESS NETWORKS WORK?
Airports are considered miniature cities, and their wireless networks must be equipped to handle the extensive capacity, reliability, and security demands. Airport wireless networks can be classified in two broad categories – Wi-Fi and cellular technologies.
Wi-Fi is a family of wireless network protocols which are commonly used for local area networking (LAN) of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital devices to exchange data by radio waves. Cellular technologies can be a combination of 3G/4G/5G networks deployed inside and outside the airport. Within the airport, the signals are organized in an access control and server hub. From there, the signals travel only multiple virtual local area networks (VLANs), both public and private, to the terminals. VLANs are location-independent networks that allow users to access the network as they move throughout the airport facility. Additionally, VLANs can be separate and secure so that only designated users have access to the network. Within each terminal are multiple WLAN. Passengers typically rely on public WLAN. Airport staff should be using private WLAN that are separate from the networks passengers can access.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO INSTALL AND MAINTAIN A WIRELESS NETWORK IN AN AIRPORT?
Installing and maintaining a wireless network in an airport can be complex. Airports are typically spacious, extensive facilities with multiple buildings and countless users. Because airports are connected to national security, design installation and management requires the most highly skilled experts, and no corners can be cut. Working with the right wireless network provider like Boingo can offer many benefits. This includes increased operational efficiency, improved passenger experience, higher passenger spending, expanded revenue opportunities, and elevated security delivered through an advanced wireless network.
WIRELESS NETWORK BUSINESS MODELS FOR GENERATING AIRPORT REVENUE
There are business models that enable airports to generate revenue with wireless access services. Within a managed model, the airport contracts a service provider to oversee the entirety of the wireless network. All the installation, operation, and maintenance duties are handled by the service provider. Through service providers, passengers, airlines, and contracting companies may pay the airport to use the wireless network. Service providers can operate on a fixed, unlimited bandwidth rate. Alternatively, service providers can charge per subscriber, for the time spent using the network, or according to bandwidth usage.
Airport wireless networks are worth the investment because they reinforce security measures, increase operational efficiencies, drive traveler spending, and improve the flow of passengers and baggage. Safety and security are top priorities in airports. Advanced biometrics, authentication, and encryption all rely upon strong and secure internet connections. Wireless networks facilitate communication between the multitude of stakeholders involved in air travel. The efficiencies and opportunities enabled through wireless networks also deliver perks to passengers. Wait times are shortened while shopping and dining experiences are enriched. Automated check-in, travel updates, and boarding allows for smoother passenger flow so that travelers are happier and spend more money.
WHAT SHOULD AIRPORTS LOOK FOR IN A WIRELESS PROVIDER?
There are many qualities airports should consider in a wireless provider. The provider should be an established, trusted, and leading innovator who can design, oversee, and maintain a comprehensive wireless network across cellular, private networks. The networks need to be smart, secure, optimized for compatibility across multiple platforms, driven by intelligent and insightful analytics, responsive to growing demands, and tiered to serve multiple classes of users. Support systems need to cater to not only passengers, but also staff and tenants.
COULD YOUR AIRPORT BENEFIT FROM A WIRELESS NETWORK SOLUTION?
As the largest provider of distributed antenna systems (DAS). Boingo has continually met the exponentially growing needs for mobile data consumption, security, and connectivity. With careful attention to evolving technological developments and consumer needs, Boingo consistently makes seamless wireless infrastructure changes and upgrades to support passenger growth.
Annually, 1 billion travelers connect with Boingo’s services. The busiest airports around the world trust Boingo.