MSP airport tests private LTE for six critical applications
CTS exec: ‘Private networks are like a Swiss Army Knife’
Communication Technology Services (CTS) has completed a CBRS private LTE network-as-a-service (NaaS) trial at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) airport. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), the network was deployed to address six applications: Airside maintenance tracking, common use system equipment (CUSE) carts, digital signage, video surveillance, critical infrastructure monitoring and mobile enterprise applications.
“MAC’s history of innovation made MSP the perfect place to demonstrate the functionality of an LTE network for the delivery of mission-critical airport applications,” commented Robert Cerbone, CTS VP of product management and marketing. “The network designed and delivered by CTS performed well under pressure and illustrated some real-world use cases that could benefit from the adoption of private cellular technology in the enterprise.”
More specifically, MSP used to the network to test general-purpose mobile device data connectivity, high definition moving maps for workforce automation and industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors. According to CTS, the private network trial “met or exceeded the performance of current networking technologies while also identifying opportunities to increase operational flexibility, reduce time to deploy/relocate services and applications, and decrease operational costs.”
For one application — airside maintenance tracking — the private network delivered a “superior HD [high-density] mapping experience” for the maps that underlay the airport’s GIS application, which are used to analyze flight routes and capacities, and allows for plans to reroute in weather- related or other emergencies.
In a previous conversation with RCR Wireless News, Cerbone explained that today, the company is offering only private LTE networks because the equipment that’s available in the spectrum band they are using is primarily 4G or LTE equipment. “There is a tremendous opportunity today for an enterprise to deploy a 4G LTE private network,” Cerbone stated. “A lot of things we’re doing today are leveraging principals that are coming with 5G,” he said, adding that while LTE doesn’t have the much-hyped capability of network slicing, CTS is still able to to allocate network resources to different applications or user groups to optimize the performance of the network across the enterprise.
In the case of MSP, for instance, CTS provided a dedicated network slice to the airport’s Intelligent Monitoring and Control System (IMACS) which connects all of MAC’s energy-related systems and equipment. The private network slice enabled the test controller to wirelessly connect to the IMACS platform with “no discernible difference to the wired connectivity in use today.”
In that same discussion, Cerbone said: “[Private] networks are like a Swiss Army Knife. It’s like trying to find the tools on the knife that are going to be best for you: Do you want a bottle opener, a nail file?”