SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (NYSE:HPE), today announced that Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA), which oversees the operation of Port Columbus International Airport (CMH), Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) and Bolton Field Airport (TZR), is installing Gigabit Wi-Fi infrastructure from Aruba across all three airports.
The new network is currently operational at passenger-focused Port Columbus, which has already served 6.7 million passengers in 2015. Plans are underway to extend connectivity in 2016 to Bolton Field, a general aviation airport, and cargo-focused Rickenbacker, that also served nearly 91,600 passengers in 2014. In addition, CRAA is evaluating the Aruba Beacons and Meridian Mobile App Platform at Port Columbus to provide travelers with a location-aware mobile app for wayfinding, enhanced airport services and tenant marketing opportunities.
The three CRAA-managed airports were operating with outdated wireless infrastructures that could not support their growth. In particular, with the increasing number of passengers and mobile devices for each of these passengers– an average of three according to CRAA’s Director of Technology Services, Jim Lizotte – the existing network failed to deliver the speed, reliability or services and applications support needed.
“As our passenger numbers continue to increase – up over five percent thus far this year – we have to accommodate the increased number and variety of devices, such as Apple watches, laptops and tablets, these passengers are bringing with them,” said Lizotte. “Wi-Fi is a critical customer satisfaction factor that our airports are measured by, so the wireless infrastructure is paramount to our success.”
A second important driver for the network overhaul was CRAA’s movement to a mobile employee workforce. Said Lizotte, “Things like disaster recovery and business continuity are crucial to an airport and rely heavily on the network infrastructure. We also have a large, mobile staff including custodians and airfield maintenance workers, as well as HVAC technicians who move around the facility. When you include all of the airport vendors and on-site airline employees, you have about 4,000 workers on-site at Port Columbus airport and all of these people rely on the Wi-Fi.”
CRAA also employs its own police department that Lizotte expects will use the Wi-Fi for public safety applications including uploading video from police cruisers.
Working with partner Cincinnati Bell Technology Services (CBTS), CRAA chose Aruba to provide a new wireless infrastructure for their three facilities. Using Aruba indoor and outdoor 802.11ac Access Points (APs), Mobility Controllers, AirWave network management and ClearPass Policy Manager, CRAA has revamped the wireless network at Port Columbus and will follow with the other two airports in 2016.
“We’ve essentially tripled our bandwidth and increased the number of APs by over 700 percent,” said Lizotte. “That means we can finally handle the density of devices we’re experiencing and give our customers a high quality wireless experience.”
When fully deployed, CRAA will have 100 percent coverage within the terminal buildings of the airports and will extend coverage to outdoor arrival and departure areas, as well some of the adjacent airport grounds like parking lots.
Although the quality of the free airport Wi-Fi was important to Lizotte and his team, equally critical to their infrastructure decision was the ability to use the network to improve the customer experience. CRAA currently has a Proof of Concept deployment of the Aruba Beacons and Meridian Mobile App platform in the Port Columbus airport, with the goal of giving passengers a richer mobile app experience. For example, airport administration can use the network to monitor traffic patterns and provide real-time updates to incoming airport passengers for security checkpoint wait times. They can also collect information about incoming flights so that if a flight is delayed, the information can be communicated to valet parking to ensure passengers’ cars are waiting for them when they arrive.
CRAA also sees great benefit in potentially using the combined network and Aruba Beacons to enable geofencing for tenant marketing opportunities – essentially, altering content based on location and preference information that the mobile app users have opted into.
Future plans also include using the Meridian App Platform and Aruba Beacons to develop an airport mobile app that would provide indoor navigation and a wealth of airport services to visitors. Lizotte noted that this could be particularly useful for Port Columbus’ airport loyalty program called “Thanks Again,” to offer members additional bandwidth as a premium service, as well as send them coupons and offer tailored to their interests.
With the new infrastructure in place, Lizotte sees enormous potential to improve operational efficiencies while enhancing the customer experience at all three airports.
“Leveraging technology is a key priority for us,” he said. “The Aruba infrastructure positions us well to do this and allows us to be more innovative moving forward in the services that we offer, both to our employees and customers, as well as our business partners.”
About Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is a leading provider of next-generation networking solutions for enterprises of all sizes worldwide. The company delivers IT solutions that empower organizations to serve the latest generation of mobile-savvy users who rely on cloud-based business apps for every aspect of their work and personal lives.
To learn more, visit Aruba at http://www.arubanetworks.com. For real-time news updates follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products visit Airheads Social at http://community.arubanetworks.com.
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