Saving the Network

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2009-06-01 Print this article Print

At Los Angeles World Airports, the IT organization is laying the groundwork to become the world’s most technologically advanced airport.


LAWA is planning to expand its technology offerings to the airlines it hosts. “In the future, all airlines—not just common-use ones—will be able to utilize our network,” Nessi explains. “For instance, today American Airlines is in our terminal number four, and it has its own telecom lines and its own networks. In the future, American would have the option to use our network.

“We have so many different entities purchasing telecommunications that it would benefit all of us to centralize. Once our network is finished in July, we will speak with the airlines to see if they want to use our network rather than their own. Some of the larger airlines will probably continue using their own network, but a lot of smaller airlines may find that it’s not worthwhile to purchase their own telecom lines.”

It all comes down to using technology to support and enhance business initiatives. “We want to provide a friendly environment for our airlines because they’re our business partners, our main tenants,” Nessi says. “So we want to make sure they have the ability to operate as cost-effectively and economically as possible.”

LAWA also has concessionaires that use portions of its network services. For example, in first-class lounges, the concessionaires use the airport’s cable infrastructure, which comes from Time Warner, to link to the airport terminal. Then they use their own cable from that point into their facility. LAWA doesn’t charge for that usage, since it considers that service part of the lease.

“If we decide to provide 24/7 network operations to the airlines and concessionaires, we will have to factor that into our business model to make sure it makes economic sense for us,” Nessi says. “We would have to add a cadre of folks working 24/7 to make sure everything was working properly. If we were not able to cover the cost of those employees, it wouldn’t make business sense to provide network operations to the airlines and concessionaires. As soon as we finish the network, we’ll start to look at this and determine whether or not it makes financial sense for us.”

LAWA also plans to expand wireless technology through-out the airport. “The wireless network will be extremely critical to our future success,” Nessi points out. “Our network is used both internally for administrative matters and externally for our airline and concessionaire partners, and it’s also a big piece of our security infrastructure. Almost every portion of all our terminals and most of our perimeter area is under constant surveillance through a CCTV system, and it all runs on our network.

“Today, our security cameras and access control mechanisms—we call these devices ACAMs—are all on our wired network, but we’re looking forward to the near future when we’ll be able to deploy these devices using a wireless network. That will give us a tremendous amount of flexibility and will also save us money because running cable is expensive.”

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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