5G technology for airport managers: wireless demystified

Given my own role at Real Wireless in the techno-economic assessment of wireless options, you would be right in assuming that I spend a lot of time looking at the, potentially very beneficial, use of wireless in a whole range of settings including airports.

In fact, in a recent blog I discussed my joint presentation with Nikolaos Papagiannopoulos from Athens International Airport, at the 2023 Passenger Terminal Expo & Conference. Our presentation looked at how the EU initiatives 5G-TOURS and (6G-focused) TrialsNet have applied wireless to a number of use cases, notably including those in airport settings and, specifically, in the case of these two projects, Athens International Airport.

This sort of research has attracted quite a lot of interest from the airport community, and so, along with Real Wireless CEO Simon Fletcher, we have now produced an article called 5G mobile networks for airports: Supporting the digital transformation for the Journal of Airport Management.

This publication – the leading quarterly journal for airport management, airlines, ground handling companies, advisers, and researchers – has a wide remit. For example, in the most recent issue, there are articles on wildlife strike strategy, flight departure delay forecasting, sustainability and security.  However, the inclusion of our article in the latest issue is proof, if it were needed, that airport managers also want to hear about what wireless can offer their businesses.

International airports are highly complex ecosystems with multiple stakeholders performing a large number of processes. Aircraft, passenger, baggage, and cargo handling are just the most visible, albeit probably the most demanding, elements. In our article, we explain to readers of The Journal of Airport Management why the lessons learned from 5G-TOURS could prove useful in showing how wireless could support the digital transformation and improved efficiency of their businesses.

Our article aims to explore and demystify 5G technology for airport managers. ‘Demystify’ is a keyword here. Real Wireless, like many others, may believe that 5G can transform the way airports are run, but managers need to understand why and how. So, this paper offers a description of wireless-enabled services and applications, along with a quantitative analysis of the potential benefits.

All of this is offered in the context of a real, working airport – Athens – allowing us to discuss with authority the various strategies that an airport operator might adopt for the management, delivery, and installation of wireless infrastructure in a specific setting, with indicative costings.

It’s worth pointing out that Real Wireless is not an uncritical cheerleader for the use of wireless in airports of course. There are pros and cons, both of which we present in the article.

But there is clearly an appetite for this sort of information. It’s no longer the case that operators and wireless experts need to shout about the benefits of wireless technology to get the attention of potential customers. Business users are coming to groups like Real Wireless for advice because we spend our working lives researching and trialling such technology and they want to know more about it.

We therefore can, and should, tell managers of airports (and of a lot of other businesses) clearly, and in language everyone can understand, why wireless infrastructure could be a useful part of their business model – potentially for many years to come – and how best to invest in it.

If you are interested in hearing more or would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article please get in touch with @Julie or @Simon. The Journal of Airport Management is a paid-for publication.