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Telecom Take-off: DIAL uses communications to enhance productivity

March 30, 2012
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New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is undergoing major modernisation and upgradation with the aim of making it a world class airport. This challenging task is being undertaken by Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a joint venture between a consortium led by the GMR Group (74 per cent equity) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) (26 per cent equity). The consortium comprises the GMR Group, Fraport AG, Eraman Malaysia and the India Development Fund, a subsidiary of the Infrastructure Development and Finance Company.

DIAL was selected through global competitive bidding in February 2006 and airport operations were handed over to the company on May 3, 2006. The modernisation project is divided into five phases and is expected to be completed by 2026. Phase I has been completed with the construction of the new integrated terminal, T3. It also involved the renovation of T1A, T1B and T1C as well as construction of T1D, a new runway (11-29) and associated taxiways.

With the completion of Phase I, IGIA is equipped to handle 60 million passengers per annum. To tap the huge business opportunities this presents and keep pace with customer demands, improve network connectivity, streamline information flow and enhance productivity, DIAL decided to make use of a robust telecom system.

tele.net takes a look at the development of DIAL’s telecom infrastructure...

Legacy system

While developing T3, the company planned to implement state-of-the-art telecom facilities and systems, says Davesh Shukla, vice-president and chief information officer, DIAL. “However, we did migrate  a few communication systems from previous implementations. These included trunk mobile radio systems (TMRSs) and the enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool, which are being used across the GMR Group.”

“The TMRS was required, as we were using a radio system in the existing terminals and the transition to the new terminal would have meant replacing the existing ones in an operational environment,” he says.

“We added a few base stations at the new sites and buildings, which offered us greater coverage, and we continued using the existing system. We then integrated the systems so that the new and old radios would work on the same platform.”

Current telecom backbone

According to Shukla, the upgraded telecom infrastructure includes the implementation of a new passive network comprising optic fibre and Cat 6 cables. This has been established along with active network components such as core, distribution and edge switches. The current network has a user base of over 10,000 customers and an installed capacity of 40,000 users.

DIAL has also set up a common infrastructure system across all information technology and communication services at T3 including the local area network, check-in displays and communication systems like radios and telephones.

“As we are working at a site where the majority of the WAN users are our partners, they have installed their own wide area network (WAN) circuits and bandwidths. This is essential, for example, when an airline wants to connect to its host system or head office, it can decide the kind of traffic and bandwidth required,” says Shukla.

Enterprise applications such as email, videoconferencing, ERP and VOIP services are also offered by DIAL. The company has also set up local servers and systems to cater to any redundancy that may be required.

While the use of mobile applications is currently limited, DIAL has chalked out a strategy to develop these in the near future. “One such application in use is the self-check-in kiosks. These are a mobile version of the check-in counters that we plan to set up in other locations. We have a small-scale solution that uses personal digital assistants for monitoring our service quality and standards across the terminal building. The data is captured on the device and sent to the central database,” says Shukla.

DIAL accords top priority to security issues and has established a security operations control centre, responsible for 24x7 monitoring, reporting and proactively rectifying any suspect or critical/ high potential impact. For software applications, DIAL has teamed up with key international vendors.

Challenges and benefits

According to Shukla, as many of the airport systems were new to the country, finding resources for network implementation was a challenge. “However, our service providers were quick to act and bring in experts to ensure smooth implementation. Challenges were also faced in the integration of systems. We have over 50 interfaces, where one system transmits information to another. The designing and testing of such systems were challenging to say the least.”

Nevertheless, he says the benefits offered by the system far outweighed the initial hiccups. “We have gained from using the latest technologies for aviation and airports. These provide advantages for passengers, airlines and concessionaires at a reduced cost. The system integration process ensures the immediate availability of accurate data and information to all stakeholders.”

All in all, by stepping up its IT and telecom infrastructure, DIAL was able to reduce communication costs as well as enhance productivity and efficiency.

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