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, they needed to update the airport PA (Public Address) systems.
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 needing powered relay points. Each building’s PA technology is a separate entity with multiple relay points due to the large size of the airport. The airport happens to be in a region that can experience bad storms. A potential issue presents itself when making emergency notifications. One location must notify emergency personal at each building who then must 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. Added benefits of PON include 99.995% uptime and an expected life of 25 years. This means 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. This allows monitoring and announcements 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.