Mitigating Disruptive WiFi Interference at Airports

Wireless networks have become critical for various operational applications on the airport including baggage reconciliation, aircraft-to-gate data communications, facilities maintenance, and security, among others. In addition to the operational applications, wireless networks have become an expectation of the public for use with an increasing number of smartphones, tablets, and personal mobile hotspots. These uses compete for the same spectrum and have the potential to create major radio frequency interference that is disruptive to all users. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that airports could not regulate the use of the WiFi spectrum or prohibit tenants with exclusive leases from installing WiFi in their leasehold areas. FCC staff recommended airports and tenants explore cooperative arrangements and innovative solutions to mitigate disruptive interference. Airport and airport tenants' dependence on wireless networks is increasing and will compound any interference problems that currently exist. Research is needed to quantify the impacts of interference to the end user and define mitigation solutions. The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook written for airport leadership that describes the interference problems and solutions to mitigate disruptions to WiFi at airports. The guidebook should address these issues at a variety of types and sizes of U.S. airports with the following considerations: (1) Quantification of the extent and magnitude of the interference problems; (2) Best technical and business practices to provide accessible, secure service with adaptable band width to meet the needs of all stakeholders; (3) Communication and collaboration efforts between parties to maximize the benefits of a cooperative approach; (4) Reference designs, adaptable to different airport environments (small, medium, large, dominant carrier, no dominant carrier, and other tenant mix), including security requirements for all stakeholders; (5) Techniques for identifying and resolving interference issues outside reference designs; (6) Strategic vision that addresses potential impacts due to increasing demand, rapidly evolving technologies, and new uses (e.g., 802.11 ac, HD video, 4G backhaul); and (7) Total cost of ownership and return on investment, including intangibles.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 01-23

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Performing Organizations:

    System Planning Corporation

  • Principal Investigators:

    Carroll, Michael

  • Start Date: 20130502
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140801
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37820

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543921
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 01-23
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 23 2014 1:01AM