KUALA LUMPUR 21 JUNE 2011 - Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport [KLIA] has upgraded its WiFi services to provide broadband access across 100 square kilometres of space, which is one of the largest WiFi spreads in the world, said US-based wireless solutions provider Ruckus Wireless.
KLIA has standardised its WiFi service with Ruckus's ZoneFlex indoor/outdoor Smart WiFi products, which is initially being used to provide free high-speed hotspot services to the passengers that transit KLIA every year, according to KLIA operator Malaysia Airports Technologies general manager Mahmood. "The move to a new airport-wide Wi-Fi system was driven by the need to give passengers the best possible airport experience by providing more ubiquitous broadband access, reliable wireless connectivity and consistent performance. Forrester Research estimates that more than 25 per cent of business airline passengers and 12 per cent of leisure travelers go on line at airports."
Mahmood said that KLIA recorded growth in terms of passenger movements to 34.1 million in 2010. "The Smart WiFi network will also be used by airlines, ground handling and aircraft engineering staff to access an array of applications. KLIA's facilities span more than 100 square kilometers. KLIA's main terminal building alone is equivalent to the size of 72 football fields."
"Airport travellers are among the most sophisticated users of technology and are now equipped with a variety of powerful WiFi-enabled devices," he said. "Consequently, there is a built-in expectation for good wireless coverage and reliable service. The question then becomes, what's the best technology for delivering the best travel experience given this change in user attitudes and behaviour."
"We upgraded our WiFi network in 2006 to widen the coverage to high user density areas such as passenger concourse and strategic locations where users generally gather," said Malaysia Airports network services manager, Khairul Salleh Ajuhary. "But we quickly discovered that passengers needed Wi-Fi everywhere and expected better and reliable performance, According to Airports Council International's Airport Service Quality audit results, WiFi had been identified as one of the elements that required further improvement due to spotty coverage and slow connection speeds. So we decided to upgrade our entire system."
Ajuhary said that free public access was just one of the key applications for WiFi. "Ground handling, aircraft maintenance and cargo handling service personnel wanted better Wi-Fi to communicate with back-office systems. New aircraft, such as Airbus A380, now come equipped with the new system that requires highly reliable Wi-Fi connections to automatically retrieve and load large volumes of aircraft systems data during layovers and turnarounds. "
"We chose Ruckus because of its unique capability to deliver predictable performance at much greater distances," he said. "We were shocked to find that a single Ruckus AP [Access Point] could cover an equivalent area previously served by two of our legacy APs, and that we could quickly and easily add wireless capacity in an area by reliably meshing APs over the air. This allows us to reduce both capital and operation costs but still provide a better Wi-Fi experience."
"With the Ruckus system, we are maintaining signal strength at -60dB at every spot," said Ajuhary. "Not only did we save huge amounts in equipment and cabling costs, we were also amazed at how easy it was to configure, deploy and manage."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.