Mexico City Airport Deploys Sepura TETRA System
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | Comments

Mexico City International Airport’s (ACIM) TETRA Network is now fully operational following its initial rollout in the first quarter of 2018.

Officially known as the Benito Juarez International Airport, the hub serves Mexico City and its surrounding areas. It is one of Latin America’s busiest airports with more than 100,000 passengers passing through each day. Statistics from 2017 showed a 7.2 percent increase in passengers compared to 2016. More than 2,500 employees are based on site.

The airport previously had an analog trunked system that suffered from operational limitations including outdated technology that could not be upgraded, poor audio quality, insufficient coverage, lack of data capability and limitations on voice call functionality. The system also had no interconnection gateways and insufficient security to protect the network from cyber threats.

Due to rapid increases in airport traffic, the airport operators needed to upgrade their communications system to one that matched international standards for robustness, reliability and security. The airport’s decision to switch to TETRA allows for enhanced existing operations and future growth in user numbers and functionality.

AICM’s new TETRA system includes three base station sites with interconnection to analog gateways, which allow the new TETRA network to connect to legacy radio technologies. This key functionality enables dispatchers to listen to all radio communications from one integrated communications system, improving efficiency and security across the site. The system is also interconnected to the airport’s PABX telephone system, allowing radio users to perform calls to fixed landlines or mobile phones from their TETRA radio, ensuring simplicity of communications and reducing expenditures on further communications devices. Crucially, the network has successfully achieved 99.9 percent coverage to meet one of the airport’s key operational requirements.

The new network has increased site security through air interface encryption and authentication, ensuring communications are secure. The airport now has GPS monitoring of emergency and runway service vehicles, enabling dispatchers to locate users working on the external side of docking gates, where they were previously out of sight.

Spread across two airport terminals, the system uses more than 500 Sepura SC20 hand-portable radios, alongside more than 130 SRG3900 desk- and vehicle-mounted mobile radios. The SC20 terminals were chosen for their combination of ruggedness, ease of use and audio quality — especially important in the extremely noisy airport environment — and the SRG3900 mobile devices complement these by enabling direct mode operation (DMO) gateway functionality to extend coverage to lower user density areas, which still required coverage. A further key advantage of the Sepura terminals is the ability to add future functionality.

“The project further strengthens the proposition that TETRA is the best option when looking at communications systems for airport operations,” said Ivan Vargas, Sepura’s business development manager for Mexico. “Airports are busy, noisy environments which need reliable, robust and secure communications. Mexico City International Airport is the first to recognize the benefits of TETRA for airports in Mexico. We look forward to expanding our offering to the other airports in the region to enhance the security and communications aspect of their daily operations.”

Airport operators are already seeing the benefits of the spectrum efficiency inherent in a TETRA system. Despite a high density of users, TETRA systems offer greater talkgroup capacity, which facilitates better resource management. In addition, operational benefits have been delivered through significantly less call queue times. The new system also offers redundancy, ensuring communications are not compromised in the event of failure. Users themselves benefit from improved voice quality, enhanced security and added functionality including water porting technology, which expels water from the microphone and speakers, ensuring consistently good audio quality.

“As a Sepura channel partner, we continue to bring the quality and robustness of Sepura’s TETRA products to Mexico,” said Jorge Morera, commercial director at Jomtel. “We are pleased to announce that this the first TETRA radio project for an airport in this country, especially in ACIM — the busiest airport in the country. We are confident that the implementation Sepura technology will expand the capabilities of the airport personnel with mission-critical voice and data services.”

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