The Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, will provide free airport-wide Wi-Fi service, covering nearly 2 million square feet. Over 36 million travelers that pass through McCarran airport each year will be able to take advantage of the free service from anywhere within the airport.
The new Wi-Fi service will allow McCarran to ultimately provide a wide range of innovative services to travelers such as being able to check flight information from Wi-Fi enabled displays and access reservation kiosk services. The new wireless environment is also being used to support airport productivity and operational applications.
"Our implementation of wireless is clearly unique and somewhat controversial," said Sam Ingalls, director of Information Systems for Clark County Department of Aviation. "We believe by making wireless access pervasive and free to travelers, we can help to bring rates and improve the quality of their travel which, in today's travel industry, is a huge plus. We looked at the current business models out there but just didn't see charging consumers for Wi-Fi as the answer to leveraging Wi-Fi as a tool at McCarran."
Ingalls noted that beyond simply providing public Wi-Fi service, McCarran can offer unique new services that speed travelers through the airport. "We can now employ, for instance, roving attendants with wireless handheld devices and pocket printers approach travelers waiting in line to check them in so they don't miss their flight."
McCarran's new wireless service will cover both the domestic and international terminals. The airport is currently the seventh largest destination airport in the United States. Unlike other airports, McCarran is able to provide the free service because it owns and operates its own airport-wide telecommunications infrastructure.
The airport plans to make the wireless network available to different users in phases. The first phase, recently completed, provides all travelers free Internet access. Future phases will untether some of the airport's passenger processing applications such as flight information display systems and reservation kiosks in order to more efficiently move people into and out of the terminals. The airport also plans to offer carriers customized wireless services tailored for their specific needs. Because McCarran's wireless network was designed for both public and private use, security was a primary factor in the selection of a wireless system.
McCarran has deployed both single and dual radio Aruba 802.11a/b/g access points (APs) throughout the airport. The grid points are managed using the Aruba 5000 modular WLAN system. The network is centrally managed by Aruba 5000 modular wireless LAN switching system in the main terminal along with the Aruba 2400 switch for distribution management.