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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
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Page 2
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
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Page 2
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
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Page 3
Page 4
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
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Page 4
Page 5
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
×
Page 5
Page 6
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27064.
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1   This guide for transformation in wireless connectivity is intended as a resource for airports as they navigate through the existing taxonomy of wireless technologies and their use cases. It describes the concept of operations and deployment architectures for wirelessly connected airports and provides a method to select and implement wireless solutions based on the current maturity level and anticipated use cases. The method involves the use of a web assessment tool hosted at crp.trb.org/acrpwebresource15. Intended readers for this guide are airport practitioners with an interest in information tech- nology (IT); executive decision makers; and managers of commercial, operational, and safety departments at airports. This guide is also relevant to managers with technical and financial responsibilities and staff responsible for the management of technology suppliers. The guide is organized as follows: • The Introduction provides the research background and defines some basic concepts for wireless technologies. The Introduction is relevant to any airport practitioner and the public. • Chapter 1: Taxonomy of Wireless Technologies and Their Uses in Airports provides a menu of wireless use cases and suitable wireless technologies for airports, describes the actors involved in wireless connectivity services at an airport, and presents models of wireless deployment architectures, maturity levels, and business values. Chapter 1 is relevant to decision makers and managers of commercial, operational, and safety departments, as well as to IT managers and directors of technical systems and innovation. • Chapter 2: Decision-Making Tool and Methods provides metrics to quantify the costs and benefits of wireless technologies in airports and define monitoring indicators. This chapter builds on the wireless taxonomy in Chapter 1 to present a practical tool for decision-making for investment in wireless technologies, together with case studies that demonstrate the use of the tool with real airports. Chapter 2 is relevant to executive decision makers and technical and financial managers. • Chapter 3: Planning and Implementation Guidelines explores recommendations and best practices for critical aspects of the deployment and operation of wireless technologies: organi- zational structure and leadership, technology transition, spectrum management, infrastructure management, and cybersecurity planning. Chapter 3 is relevant to IT practitioners, technical and innovation managers, and staff responsible for the management of technical suppliers. Opportunities and Challenges for Wireless Technologies in Airports Wireless communications have long held promise for connectivity anywhere. In the past two decades, the ubiquity of wireless devices and their increasing communication capacity have made them competitors with wireline communications as they expand access to connectivity by the Introduction

2 Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports public and enterprises at a reduced cost. This advance has triggered new business models based on end-to-end wireless applications and mobility, and with them, opportunities for new revenue streams and cost efficiencies. For airports, advances in wireless technology provide opportunities to improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, generate new aeronautical and nonaeronautical revenue streams, increase operational reliability, and enhance efficiencies. The main wireless applications at airports—passenger connectivity and airport staff communications—are imposing increasing demands on wireless capacity. Demand for passenger mobile connectivity is skyrocketing as high-speed-capable devices proliferate, and passengers require enhanced connectivity either for work or entertainment during dwell times, including location-based services for a custom travel experience. In addition, passengers are increasingly interested in seamless roaming from their cellular operator to a high-speed internet connec- tion when they enter an airport. The increased use of high-data-rate smart devices also requires enhanced connectivity. Airport staff, as well as first responders, increasingly use mobile devices to communicate with peers and access information to perform their duties, and they have stringent requirements for secure, reliable connectivity when performing critical tasks in the field. Wireless communica- tions provide important advantages over wireline communications: • Wireless devices can be mobile, unlocking a plethora of applications requiring connection anywhere, such as mobile user connectivity, cloud enterprise applications, location-based services, uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), and automated or autonomous vehicles. • The cost and complexity of building wireless networks are relatively low compared with that of deploying a wireline infrastructure because of the reduced amount of hardware required, the wider choice of service providers, and the minimum space management costs. In the case of airports, their vast airside areas, as well as landside areas (in the case of commercial airports), provide an ideal scenario for exploiting this efficiency advantage, with large-scale internet of things (IoT) smart building applications such as sensing, asset tracking and control, and airfield surveillance. • Wireless is synonymous with flexibility. Network infrastructure can be deployed rapidly and, if service requirements change, it can be reconfigured or scaled much more readily than cable infrastructure. In addition, self-configuring gateway devices and direct-mode communica- tions are features supported by some wireless technologies that minimize or avoid any man- agement of infrastructure. • Most importantly, advanced wireless technology capabilities now include gigabit-per-second (Gbps)-level speeds per user, ultra-low-latency, robust security and reliability, and low energy consumption. These new capabilities are engineered for a new network generation where billions of connected things share the frequency spectrum and network resources with data- heavy user devices in variably dense spaces. Ultimately, a new paradigm of wireless network convergence is appearing, owing to the coordination of frequency bands, disaggregation of infrastructure, and more efficient use of resources through centralized controllers and interoperable architectures. These advances expand the wireless benefits to applications that until now could only be supported by wireline infrastructure due to performance or reliability requirements. Despite their benefits, wireless communications present a series of challenges: • Because the physical transmission medium is radio-frequency (RF) waves over the air, wireless communications are prone to interference, which may result in a higher risk of vulnerabilities or degraded quality of service. Interference can be caused by other wireless communication systems in the vicinity, including communications, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) systems operating within or near airports. These systems include airborne navigation equipment, civil

Introduction 3   and military radar, and radio voice systems. Interference may also arise from other electronic equipment such as public announcement systems. • The air interface also introduces new cyberattack surfaces. This represents a barrier for some critical uses such as surveillance, asset control, and operation of uncrewed vehicles, which require highly secure communication systems. Cybersecurity planning and testing, together with appropriate coordination and regulatory compliance, can help mitigate this risk. • Mobility introduces an element of uncertainty in network planning and configuration. Because the user is moving freely in a space, instead of being connected through a stable anchor point, unforeseen events can occur. Examples include high-demand peaks due to the movements of crowds, service outages, and signal degradation due to mobile obstacles. These are real problems that most airports encounter today and present a barrier to quality service and wireless integration. • Finally, the myriad wireless technology options and the lack of standards for interoperability and integration at airports create a complex technology environment. Therefore, solutions are deployed and maintained in response to the needs of airport departments, losing the advantages of scale and infrastructure rationalization and resulting in high engineering and maintenance costs. This is a major barrier to implementation, especially for application seg- ments traditionally slower to adopt new technologies. Maximizing the benefits of wireless applications for airport stakeholders while overcoming their unique limitations requires a good understanding of the application requirements and the technology capabilities. The objective of this guide is to fill this gap and provide airport opera- tors with straightforward information and tools for effective decision-making in selecting and investing in wireless technologies. Basic Concepts of Wireless Networks Wireless communication uses open air as its physical support (also called air interface), through the transmission of RF waves. When a communications network provides air interfaces to its end users, it is generally called a wireless network. Naturally, wireless networks are just another component of IT systems. Infrastructure in IT systems is usually, and increasingly, integrated and shared between wireless and wireline networks. Figure 1 depicts wireless networks within the overall IT system architecture of an organization. Radio access networks (RANs) provide access services to end users via an air interface. These networks rely on an infrastructure of radio stations with capabilities to advertise the network, accept (or reject) users, manage radio channels, and provide the appropriate radio resources for users to transmit and receive data. Radio planning is the process of organizing the ensemble of Figure 1. Wireless networks in an organization’s IT architecture.

4 Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports radio stations in a way that provides an adequate level of service to all the users in the area of coverage of the RAN in the most optimal way. This is a complex design process that targets a balance between coverage and capacity in its environment. Coverage is the maximum distance from an emitting radio station where end users receive sufficient signal-strength quality to run wireless-based services. Coverage depends on the nom- inal range determined by the transmission power and the capabilities of the antennae at the radio station and the end-user device but is also highly susceptible to environmental conditions. Phenomena such as propagation, reflection, and multipath—produced by the atmosphere, sur- rounding environment, and building materials—can cause degradations to the radio signal that reduce coverage. In addition, neighboring RANs operating at high power can attempt to transmit simultaneously in the same or contiguous frequency, causing radio interference with the RAN with lower coverage. Some wireless technologies are more resistant to degradation and interfer- ence than others. Capacity is the ability to provide the data service required for a given signal-strength level at reception. Capacity is usually defined as the achievable bits-per-second (bps) throughput and message latency in milliseconds (ms). High signal-strength levels (compared with noise and interference strength) are correlated with capacity: When the reception quality is good, a more capable modulation type can be used, conveying higher volumes of information with the same time/frequency resources. However, the capacity of the air interface served by a radio station is limited, and congestion can occur when either the amount of data traffic requested by users or the number of users is high. Thus, RANs are designed not only to cover certain area sizes but also to service certain volumes of traffic and users. Coverage and capacity are opposite design factors in wireless networks. RANs are designed considering the tradeoff between these two factors; favoring one is usually detrimental to the other. Small “cells,” or service areas, limit the RAN coverage but can serve a higher density of users and limit the interference with neighboring cells. Large (macro) cells can cover larger areas with the same infrastructure but are more susceptible to congestion and interference. Transport networks support the connectivity of end users in the RAN to the service network. Adequate transport infrastructure and topology are crucial because congestion can also occur in this segment. Usually, RAN capacity requirements drive the requirements for the transportation networks supporting them. Transport networks can be wireline (coaxial or fiber), although they coexist with wireless technologies. Service networks are the segments that host the application servers running the data services provided to end users. They are agnostic to the physical support, but their design affects the RANs and transport networks. Although most operational services traditionally have been run on the organization’s premises, many core operations are moving to the cloud using the internet as the service network. Airports have followed a similar trend (airline departure control systems and passenger connectivity are now completely cloud-based services). However, due to the criticality of airport operations, service networks for safety applications are expected to be retained within airport premises, either within airport-hosted data centers or as edge computing deployments running in local clouds near the RAN for reduced latency and more efficient network operation. Recommended Steps for Wireless Technology Transition in Airports Technology transition to achieve the goal of a wireless-connected airport is a complex process in a constantly changing environment. Although there is no single best way to do it, this guide recommends a method that provides clear steps to support decision makers and involve stake- holders (Table 1). This method ensures the proper assessment is performed, using the correct

Introduction 5   Step Use case assessment Sections 1 Identify business goals and value propositions desired from wireless technologies. 1.1, 2.1 2 Consult stakeholders and identify the wireless use cases desired. Determine benefits and risks (BP). 1.1, 2.1, 2.2 3 Outline potential wireless technologies supporting the desired use cases and select the candidate business models (BP). 1.2, 1.3, 2.2 Determination of technology transition scenarios 4 Identify current wireless architectures and engagement strategies (hands-off, facilitator, provider); identify the current maturity level (TP). 1.2, 1.4, 2.2 5 Identify target engagement strategies and minimum maturity levels required to enable the desired business models. 1.4 6 Select feasible combinations of wireless technology architectures. For each alternative. 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 Technology investment decision-making 6a Determine the TCO and engineering cycle required for the deployment or upgrade of the wireless technologies identified. Align it with the airport budget (TP). 2.1, 2.2, 3.2 6b Determine the benefits and risks of the combination of technologies (TP). 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 7 Compare and select one technology combination for implementation (TP). 2.2 Transition planning 8 Develop a financial and procurement plan considering the airport master plan, airport layout plan, airport budgets, and organizational structure. 3.1, 3.2 9 Secure stakeholder buy-in and partnership agreements, access to spectrum, and interest from industry suppliers. Develop a supplier management strategy. 3.3, 3.4 10 Develop an operational plan including alignment with IT and innovation strategy, technology roadmap and progress in maturity level, and user and staff training plan. 3.1, 3.2 11 Integrate the IT cybersecurity plan into the airport security plan, taking into consideration new wireless networks to be deployed or upgraded. 3.5 System deployment 12 Understand compliance requirements and obtain authorization to deploy and fund the system. Determine supplier capabilities and launch the procurement process. 3.3, 3.4 13 Work with suppliers to perform RF surveys; plan radio network; install infrastructure and software; develop a monitoring/troubleshooting system, a maintenance plan, and a go-live plan. Work with stakeholders to test and validate the system. Deployment may be incremental. 3.4 14 Perform vulnerability assessment and run acceptance tests on the wireless networks for required security, reliability, and performance. 3.4, 3.5 15 Activate new wireless networks following the go-live plan. 3.4 Management and maintenance 16 Performance monitoring, troubleshooting, and KPI reporting. 3.4 17 Network management, including maintenance, updates, device/user policy management, and continuous network optimizations (e.g., regular RF surveys). 3.4 18 Cybersecurity monitoring, identification, and mitigation of vulnerabilities; network recovery. 3.5 Table 1. Recommended step-by-step checklist for wireless technology transition in airports.

6 Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports tools and processes, followed by appropriate decision-making, planning, and operation of the deployed networks. Some of the steps involve a web-based assessment tool hosted at crp.trb.org/ acrpwebresource15; these steps describe how to use the business profile (BP) and the technology profile (TP) of the tool (see Section 2.2). The method reflected in this checklist is adaptable to specific cases; factors including time or resource constraints could require removing the execution of some steps or changing the order of some actions. Additionally, the steps of procurement and integration will vary from case to case based on the capabilities, feasibility, and status of various assets at each airport.

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The main wireless applications at airports—passenger connectivity and airport staff communications—are imposing increasing demands on wireless capacity. Demand for passenger mobile connectivity is skyrocketing as high-speed-capable devices proliferate, and passengers require enhanced connectivity either for work or entertainment during dwell times, including location-based services for a custom travel experience.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 242: Transformation in Wireless Connectivity: Guide to Prepare Airports is intended as a resource for airports as they navigate through the existing taxonomy of wireless technologies and their use cases.

ACRP WebResource 15: Assessment Tool for Transformation in Wireless Connectivity is an assessment tool that supports the methodology outlined in the report. It provides a dynamic interface to input the current status of the wireless technology implementation at an airport and to input the intended goals regarding the development of the airport’s wireless infrastructure/use cases and generates a report that comprehensively compares the indicated current and target statuses.

Supplemental to the report is a PowerPoint presentation that can be used by airport decisionmakers on proposed solutions.

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