Public tendering for the long overdue and much needed provision of broadband internet access for travellers and businesspeople at Dublin Airport appears to be imminent.
A spokesman for Aer Rianta told siliconrepublic.com that the company had been working on the issue for the past 18 months or so and that its plan was to create its own infrastructure in-house.
He added that Aer Rianta intended then to syndicate a number of different service providers to use what will be a wireless system.
It’s thought the company will operate something along the lines of its own billing system.
The extension of wireless to the airport follows the introduction within the past seven days of wireless local area network (WLAN), otherwise known as hotspots, by both O2 and Esat BT.
Esat BT’s service, BT Openzone, will be based at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, while O2 will provide its ‘wireless zone’ service at 11 hotels and at Heuston station in Dublin.
Each hotspot provides for very fast internet connectivity – as much as 30 times faster than a standard dial-up modem – and works using a data card rather than requiring a plug-in, making it ideal for businesspeople.
Although Aer Rianta has yet to issue a request for tender for the development of its WLAN, it’s believed the company is on the verge of issuing it.
Currently internet availability at Dublin Airport is limited. Vodafone has a retail store there which provides internet access to customers. Eircom, too, provides kiosks where there are phone systems and in the airport executive rooms there are paypoints where people can dial up or access the internet.
However, there is, as yet, no wireless service.
Competition for the tenders will be intense with airports representing particularly popular hotspots given the amount of time people have on their hands when preparing to travel.
Getting online from remote locations is already proving huge business for providers in the US and UK.
The battle for a share of the spoils at Dublin Airport is about to begin.
By Suzanne Byrne