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Rio Airport CIO preparing for Olympics with new Wi-Fi network and mobile app

Jen A. Miller | July 13, 2016
Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport CIO Alexandre Villeroy building platform for next 25-30 years

rio galeao airport

The 2016 Olympics Games are already off to a rough start - and we haven't even seen opening ceremonies yet. Worries about the Zika virus, polluted competition waters, doping scandals and Rio's precarious finances could mean a complicated time in August for the Summer Games.

One thing thing poised to go well: communication at Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport, Brazil's biggest airport and how most people will get into the country for the games.

Some 17 million people a year travel through Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport. About 1.5 million more are expected for the Olympics.

To be ready for the 2016 Olympics - and beyond - airport desperately needed a new wireless network - and a mobile app wouldn't be a bad idea either.

"The network was very old," sayd Alexandre Villeroy. What it had was a mix of legacy systems that had been patched together. He said that it was so bad that they just about had to start from scratch.

He knew that as is, "it was not a system they could rely on for the next 30 years" - and that wasn't even factoring in the Olympics, which was about to bring a lot of people into the country.

The network upgrade was done with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) to replace outdated and legacy infrastructure, with the vendor also providing an app to control the new systems some of the Aruba technology around the site.

A spokeswoman from HPE declined to reveal costs of the project, but she said that the upgrade is part of a 25-year plan to invest $5.2 billion in the airport, and out of this, about $2 billion will be invested by the Olympic Games. "This total includes their major construction efforts as well as infrastructure upgrades," she added. Construction includes a 100,000 square meter expansion project.

Airport tech necessities

A lot goes on at airports in addition to planes coming and going. The network is used by airlines, security, immigration, stores, concessions and passengers. At the Olympics' peak, the airport expects to have 90,000 visitors a day, double the usual number.

"Airports are challenging in terms of upgrade deployments regardless, but in this case, they are also doing a big expansion of this airport in preparation for the Olympics and anticipation of a huge uptick of network use with more people passing through the airport bringing more devices being heavily engaged with what will be going on event-wise," says Nolan Greene, senior research analyst in network infrastructure at IDC.

The Aruba platform will give the airport the cohesive network it needs, plus stronger data centre and Wi-Fi infrastructure, says Villeroy, which will make the business of being an airport easier on airlines and retail partners while providing Wi-Fi for visitors, too.

 

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