Heathrow is all about international connection, but improved internal connection is becoming a priority.
The airport management is moving towards upgrading its existing analogue radio system to a TETRA network to support is operations.
Heathrow served 75 million passengers in 2015 which will increase dramatically once a third runway and sixth terminal are built. The rising numbers of customers will mean more service and security staff who will need a high-capacity, resilient network that keeps them connected no matter where they are on site.
“Given the sheer size of Heathrow and all the different types of buildings plus the huge number of potential users needing to access the network every hour of every day of the year and it is obvious what an asset this will be when complete,” comments ATDI technical director Nick Kirkman.
Heathrow has stated its intention to simplify as well as upgrade its present systems. The airport currently has 76,500 daily staff belonging to around 400 different organisations using a variety of different radio platforms; there are also external contractors and airline ground staff using a further set of networks. Heathrow’s radio and cellular infrastructure architect Jason Trimmer describes it as “probably the densest area in the country in terms of radio use”.
He adds: “I firmly believe that TETRA can do [what we need]. We’re already engaged with a lot of stakeholders and the mood is very positive. The end users are very excited too as they can see how their operations can function more effectively.”
One advantage of TETRA is the greater geographic coverage provided by its lower frequencies compared with other systems; another will be the GPS features which will allow Heathrow to monitor the location of people and assets. In addition, the facility for data messaging combined with apps on handsets could free up spectrum resources as more information goes as numbers and images rather than via voice.
Nick says: “It is easy to see why Heathrow is thinking in these terms. ATDI has long experience of working with TETRA networks and the advantages of the system have long been apparent.”