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Unified communications takes off

Kanika Goswami | Aug. 4, 2008
Airports around the world were gearing up for the future and the Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) was presented with a chance to do some catching up.

And it's also scalable. Anantheswaran says that he can get 32 lambdas more if they attach another cable and add some components on the backbone.

"From the beginning, we realized that this is a service provider class network. Within the campus, we are nothing less than a Bharti Airtel. And that was the premise of putting the network in. The investment and the size of network was also based on this parameter," he says.

And while not all of the 57 airlines that operate from the Mumbai airport have signed up, nine are already live and 21 more are currently in the process. The rest are expected to join as they move to their new offices.

So what are the other privatized international airports in India put in? Anantheswaran says, "They have not invested in full UC. They have chosen to go with telephony and data network separately. They have gone about 50 percent down the path." (see Reaching New Heights)

But having said that he also thinks that it is not possible to set up a unified communication network at a later date.

Over the next few years, Anantheswaran plans to have more applications that will ride on the network. More immediately, MIAL plans to activate some applications that were designed to work on the network like a public address system and a fire alarm system. "We are testing out radio over IP, which means our own ground communication can be moved from walkie-talkie to UC. We are still in testing and we'd need to clear a lot of security issues before we take it up," says Anantheswaran.

Other things on the cards are applications that help identify security hazards. This includes an x-ray system that will work over the network. Like the CUTE counters 'inline baggage scanning' will help free up more space in the airport by introducing pre-check-in x-raying. Passengers will no longer have to pass their baggage through an x-ray machine before checking in. They will hand over their bags at the check-in counter. UC enables the airport to do this because the integrated network makes it possible to pass on information of suspect baggage quickly -- without delaying a flight. "This is a major advantage, since all those lines for scanning and screening will be gotten rid of and this will save space," Anantheswaran explains.

Already the airport's communications backbone is sized so that entire communications and security systems (CCTV and the like) can work on a single backbone. "The quality of security systems can be greatly improved and it gives us the flexibility of set up control centers like an Airport Operations Center and a Security Operations Center wherever we want and shift whenever we want," says Cash.


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