New airport terminal has end-to-end IP network

A new US$4.4 billion terminal opening Tuesday at Toronto Pearson International Airport will showcase an end-to-end IP network developed by Cisco Systems Inc. that is expected to enhance safety and security and lower costs for the airport and its tenants.

The new Terminal 1 uses Cisco's Intelligent Airport Solutions, said Pierre-Paul Allard, Cisco's vice president of enterprise marketing. Allard said Cisco has launched similar networking products for other transportation sectors.

The Cisco network will support all the data, voice, video and wireless communications systems for the management, tenants, vendors and passengers at the Toronto facility, said James Burke, vice president for information technology and telecommunications at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). The authority operates the Toronto airport.

By using the Cisco product, the GTAA has been able to merge 14 separate networks and 11 information silos into a single, more secure network at the new terminal, Burke said. The system was developed jointly by Cisco and Amsterdam-based SITA INC (Information Networking Computing), a provider of air transport applications, communications and IT infrastructure.

The terminal's new IP-based network relies on more than 100 networking switches, more than 1,100 IP phones, and more than 1,000 wireless access points, Cisco said.

The new Terminal 1 is expected to bolster security, according to Cisco, by enabling networks for video surveillance; a wired and wireless communications network for security personnel; and consistent security services for network perimeter security, data privacy, network monitoring, intrusion detection and firewalls.

It is also expected to save the airport money, offer customized data services and help protect against network and data infrastructure threats and outages, Cisco said.

The system, for instance, will allow carriers to share kiosks, check-in counters and gates -- and open them only when needed, Burke said. That reduces the need to build more gates.

Burke also said carriers will no longer have to build expensive, proprietary networks to board and debark planes, or to check in passengers. The airlines, instead, will access a common-use network -- one communications infrastructure that is shared by all tenants, he said.

"The network changes how the airport interacts with its tenants," said Allard.

In the past, Allard said, there were 57 separate IT environments for the 57 airlines using the airport. The airlines were responsible for how they built their high-speed connections and any other individual applications.

"Through this solution we've turned the airport into a service provider, not just to airlines but to the multiple constituents within the airport at all levels -- the companies that do the catering, the maintenance, the water treatment," Allard said.

Using a common high-speed optical backbone connection to the outside, each constituent creates its own set of access points using current applications, overlaying them through a virtual private network infrastructure.

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