Dublin airport wireless hotspot plans unveiled

25 Aug 2003

Plans to make Dublin Airport a wireless internet hotspot are under way. Aer Rianta issued a tender this afternoon seeking a company to build the Wi-Fi network. It intends to implement a secure overlay WLAN network to provide reliable high-speed access from suitably equipped mobile devices.

The company is understood to have accepted a recommendation by Norcontel, a telecom consultancy, to build an internet network that travellers will be able to access on a laptop or personal digital assistant (PDA) anywhere in the airport.

The Wi-Fi hotspot will enable broadband internet access at up to 20 times the speed of a normal home connection. Access will probably be through a password printed on a scratchcard that can be bought in the airport. Most Wi-Fi hotspots are installed in large companies. However, several upmarket hotels, mostly in Dublin, now offer Wi-Fi access. Most large US and European airports also have Wi-Fi hotspots.

It is intended that the contract agreed with the chosen supplier will contain two options for building the Wi-Fi network. The proposed scope of work for option one will include survey, design, implementation, verification and commissioning of the proposed WLAN infrastructure and the provision of services, which will include support with helpdesk facilities, monitoring of the system, portal support and maintenance of all hardware and software.

In the second option, Aer Rianta is requesting, in addition, commercial proposals on management of all WLAN services at the airport, provision of support to users and provision of all services associated with the normal operation of the service, billing for tenants and customers, and internet service providers services for public access users.

It is understood that in the event that option one is selected, a contract will be awarded for a period of three years. In the event that option two is selected, a contract will be awarded for a period of five years.

The expected cost of the multimillion euro project, which is only now in the early stages of a tendering process, has not been revealed. It is expected that many companies will be interested in this lucrative tender.

The competition deadline is 18 September and it is understood that Aer Rianta will make a shortlist from the list of applicants by October. It is not known when a final decision of the tender will be made.

The business sector has reacted positively to the news. “ICT Ireland welcome this announcement and I hope Aer Rianta follows it through,” says Brendan Butler, director of ICT Ireland. “The development of a WI-Fi network at Dublin Airport is very important for people to have access to the internet while on the move and also for Ireland as a whole; for a country that puts itself out there as a leader in e-commerce, it is very important to have an established Wi-Fi network at its main airport.”

By Lisa Deeney