Calgary Airport Authority adds wireless service

The Calgary Airport Authority has implemented a wireless network it hopes will benefit both travellers and businesses.

The Telus network, which was launched last October, has two sides — a public side for travellers looking

to stay connected and a private side for airport businesses that want to give their workers some mobility, said Paul Lawrence, director of information technologies and communications at the Calgary Airport Authority.

“We had some requests from the travelling public,” he said.

The private side is segmented off from the public side and uses radius authentication and encryption, he said. The Airport Authority had some educational sessions for businesses at the airport, and on request from the airlines, made sure the signal reaches the ramp area, but as yet, businesses there haven’t really taken advantage of the wireless network, Lawrence said.

“With the industry the way it is right now, they’re looking at all their expenditures,” he said, but the airport wanted to offer the wireless capability as an extension to the existing airport network.

The Airport Authority is planning to use the network itself to offer its own workers more mobility within the airport, he said. “It will give workers at the airport the ability to take the information with them and be able to connect to the office.”

Right now workers use a combination of BlackBerry, iPaq and other handheld devices. Lawrence is looking to consolidate that.

“We don’t have a specific killer application. What we’re looking for is how we’re going to take our maintenance info and tech info and day-to-day operations and put it into a mobile interface for people who move throughout the airport.”

The Airport Authority commissioned Intel to inspect the network.

What business travellers want is to be able to open their notebooks and have them automatically recognize available hotspots and connect to them, said Doug Cooper, the Canada country manager at Intel of Canada in Toronto.

They also need to be able to get to their VPN gateways, something hotspot providers initially forgot, he said. But hotspots are catching on, he said. There are currently some 60,217 hotspots worldwide, and 1,078 in Canada, according to jiwire.com.

“We’ve seen adoption rates double, and those are paid for. This makes companies like Telus happy,” Cooper said.

More employees are using mobile devices, and this is driving their adoption, said Amol Shah, a telecom and Internet research analyst at IDC Canada in Toronto.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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