A hub airport in the mid-west is a critical connection to the world. Airports upgrade their infrastructure continuously and look for technologies that will improve reliability an overall operational efficiency. In this case, the airport’s Public Address (PA) systems needed to be updated.


Today’s digital PA systems are typically connected to the airport’s communication infrastructure by copper-based ethernet cables. Ethernet cables only have an effective maximum operating distance of 328 feet (100 meters) before powered relay points are needed. This airport has become so large that each building’s PA technology has been treated as a separate entity with multiple relay points. The airport happens to be in a region that can experience bad storms. When emergency notifications must be made, one location has to notify emergency personnel at each building, who must then relay the message. Airport management would prefer to centralize critical functions such as this to avoid delays in critical announcements. Further, reducing the number of relay points would reduce equipment requirements as each point is a possible point of failure.


Instead of a traditional coper-based network, Pentegra proposed a Passive Optical Network (PON) solution that uses optical fiber to carry signals. Fiber optic cables have an effective operating distance of 12 miles without relay; more than enough to span the entire airport. PON has the added benefits of 99.995% uptime and an expected life of 25 years, so it will not need to be replaced every 5 – 7 years like prior Ethernet networks. Less upgrading significantly reduces waste electronics. The PON system now connects all PA technology within all buildings at the airport. All monitoring and announcements can be made from one central station.


Recently, the airport’s region experienced a severe weather incident. For the first time, central safety experts were able to issue an alert announcement to all airport buildings simultaneously, from one location. When seconds can count, one voice is better than many. And with incredibly high reliability, PON technology will be ready when needed.

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