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GTAA turns to IP for $4.4B airport terminal

Wired and wireless IP technology will play a key role at the new $4.4 billion terminal at Toronto Pearson Internati...


April 1, 2004  


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Wired and wireless IP technology will play a key role at the new $4.4 billion terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which will open its doors to the traveling public on April 6.

This week, officials with Cisco Systems Canada and the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), which manages the facility, released details on a networking and wireless strategy that has since been implemented in the state-of-the-art facility.

The cornerstone of the initiative is the Cisco Intelligent Airport Solutions, an architecture designed for the air transportation industry, and the AirportConnect platform from SITA Inc., a provider of transport-focused networking applications and platforms.

The latter allows an IP phone to function as a data terminal for accessing and processing passenger information.

“Airport executives are under heavy pressure to provide secure transportation, while reducing costs, implementing new business processes and driving new services,” said James Burke, vice president of IT and telecommunications at the GTAA.

“We view the network as the foundation of our business and operations strategy.”

The terminal’s IP-based network uses optical backbones with Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS), virtual private networks (VPN) and SONET services. The airport has also consolidated disparate systems into a single network for data, voice and video communications.

The IP network allows airport management and terminal tenants to access their own data and private communications systems from virtually anywhere in or near the facility.

The GTAA will use Cisco’s VPN equipment and other technologies to ensure the privacy and security of traffic over both networks.

“You don’t see too many workers at an airport sitting down,” said Burke. “They’re out bustling somewhere, redirecting maintenance people, and redirecting the operations people out on the ramps and aprons. A ‘work-anywhere’ communications infrastructure is crucial to getting info to an providing information access for these people.”

According to Cisco, the network, which includes an estimated 100 networking switches, 1,000 IP telephones and 1,000 wireless access points, will support as many different systems as the airport and tenants require.

Different uses include passenger check-in and baggage tracking, video surveillance and telephone service.

Each tenant will also have its own private local area networking for running any of its own voice, data or video applications.