Spanish fly with airport Wi-Fi

Spanish fly with airport Wi-Fi

The Spanish Airport Authority (AENA) has plumped for what is probably the biggest mesh contract in Europe -- to unwire all 23 of Spain's airports, using Strix equipment. And it lets the authority park planes under radio control.

A thousand mesh nodes already cover the buildings and tarmac of Madrid airport, where they are have a three-fold task: public access, airport management tasks such as video surveillance and baggage handling, and a rent-an-SSID service for businesses operating in the airport.

Planes being brought into parking bays can be controlled automatically, according to Kirby Russell, director of product marketing at Strix: "The pilot can let go of the controls and let airport staff pull the plane into the actual parking area. It's the first network of its type to be used in any airport."

The network combines Strix' Indoor Wireless System (IWS) and its Outdoor Wireless System (OWS), so that airport staff and users can keep connected as they roam between different areas and even outside the building.

Roaming will be increasingly important in airports, as handheld devices, and applications like voice on Wi-Fi take off, said Russell. "Our product authenticates at a RADIUS server, and then when the user moves to another node, re-authentication happens automatically. Users should be able to use VoIP on their way to the plane."

As well as Madrid, deployments are complete at Barcelona, Bilbao, and Malaga, with the other 19 taking the total deployment to around 10,000 nodes to be completed over the next 18 months

"AENA's airports are extremely advanced; they are some of the first in the world to use advanced baggage control and plane parking applications," said Vicente Ariguita, president of CN&C, the integrator putting the networks together. The Strix bid apparently displaced equipment from Cisco and Symbol.

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