Heathrow Terminal 5 gets wired with Cisco, and unwired with Aruba

Heathrow Terminal 5 gets wired with Cisco, and unwired with Aruba

Cisco and Aruba should contribute to the smooth running of Heathrow's Terminal 5

Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (T5) was opened to massive fanfare last week, with contributions from vendors including Cisco and Aruba.

T5 is around the same size as Hyde Park, with an area of 260 hectares. Open now, is the first phase of the project, including the main terminal and the first of two satellite buildings, which on its own is as big as terminal four.

The main facility is the size of four football pitches and the retail area is the biggest in the UK. The second satellite building is due for completion in 2011, and the projected passenger capacity for T5 is 30m per year.

BAA’s design consultants for Terminal 5’s communications infrastructure, Arup, designed the wireless infrastructure, deciding on Aruba’s system over the other shortlisted candidate, Airespace/Cisco.

Aruba’s marketing director Roger Hockaday said, “This is a highly resilient, highly redundant design and uses 802.11a/g, but mainly 802.11g. There is no 802.11n yet, but BAA is looking at this as something for the future.”

The wireless system will support retail operations, public Internet access, BAA’s own service offerings to organisations within Terminal 5, and British Airways’ wireless lounge Internet access. One of the most important systems is the Baggage Conveyor Systems project deployed by BAA, allowing wireless barcode scanners to check luggage in and out through the main database.

“In the future they’ll be looking at Boeing’s Gatelink system, which will load all the information from the aircraft, such as how much fuel it will need, over the wireless system,” added Hockaday.

The wireless infrastructure extends to the apron around the terminal, and in total uses some 800 Aruba AP70 Access Points (APs), managed with six Aruba MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controllers located in two data centres serving Heathrow. The APs run off Cisco access switches connecting back into a wired network provided by Cisco using Power over Ethernet and 100Mbit/s links.

The Cisco wired network uses a multi-protocol label switched (MPLS) core network running at 1Gbit/s over single mode optical fibre connecting both data centres.

Arup’s IP Design Leader for Terminal 5 Alan Newbold said, “Because of the nature of Terminal 5, a secure and resilient wireless network was a crucial requirement for BAA, and only Aruba was able to deliver the deep packet inspection firewall, central management and overall flexibility that was needed without compromising security.”