Updating the world’s busiest international airport

26 November 2019

The Airwave service uses TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio), an ETSI standard digital private mobile radio (PMR) systems which provides communications to keep emergency & public safety teams in touch using portable handheld & fixed vehicle radios.

It works in much the same way as a commercial mobile phone network and its digital voice and data service is trusted by the emergency service teams 24/7 as well as by other public safety agencies.

The nationwide roll-out of the digital Airwave network meant the old analogue radio communication system used by the emergency services would be replaced.

 With Heathrow Airport’s numerous buildings and infrastructure, it was soon identified that an airport-wide communication system would need careful planning to achieve the required operational criteria.

 So, the customer entered close dialogue with Airwave as the new network was being created.

This early involvement meant Airwave soon concluded they would need a company with specialist knowledge and experience of TETRA technology to deliver its customers’ needs at Heathrow.

Airport coverage requirements were specified and it turned out to be almost everywhere.

Affini was responsible for designing the system and so it had to satisfy the customer that all the airside, landside, public and private areas had the coverage required.

In fact, coverage was so important that the customer wanted to independently test the system.

This was completed during the final commissioning phase to ensure it met their requirements.

The network was designed to ensure that users have instant communication, even in remote areas and within the confined spaces of the building and tunnels.

Where radio coverage has often failed in the past.

To make this a reality, Affini used its skills and expertise in design, to create and construct the wireless infrastructure to bring the network to life.

The network’s comprehensive indoor and outdoor coverage is now operational in the following in all airport terminals, public car parks, pedestrian subways linking the terminals, airside road tunnels under the runway and the M4 spur road tunnel.

There’s also one rooftop macro cell inside the airport and seamless external coverage from neighbouring TETRA cells outside the airport boundaries.

Throughout the implementation they have been responsive and easy to work with,” said Martin Benke, operations director at Airwave.“