A partnership between Purdue, Ericsson, and Saab aims to prove that using a private 5G technology is a viable alternative that is efficient and flexible.
March 21, 2023, 10:24 AM

Purdue University Airport has partnered with Ericsson and Saab on a “lab to life” proving ground to showcase the benefits of private 5G for airports. The partnership aims to prove that using private 5G technology can provide a viable alternative and provide more efficiency and flexibility over typical connectivity approaches.

Airports install sensors and systems that are typically hardwired, necessitating connection points through trenches for copper lines or fiber-optic cables. Airports can also use point-to-point radio frequency links, which can be unreliable, or use public cellular connections that come with subscription fees and consumer-oriented performance limitations, the partners said.

Ericsson is providing the 5G network to the Purdue Research Foundation for Purdue University Airport (KLAF), a public-use airfield on the southwest side of Purdue’s West Lafayette, Indiana campus. More than 125,000 aircraft operations are conducted at KLAF annually, making it the state’s second-busiest airport. Purdue also is providing a lab-to-life testbed throughout its Discovery Park District—a 400-acre, mixed-use development adjacent to the university’s campus.

Saab is installing an Aerobahn platform for airlines and ramp management; SAFE Event Management platforms, a security platform for airport operation centers; and ADS-B sensors to track aircraft.

We are witnessing an uptake in global demand for digitalization at airports that requires stable, secure, and high-performing wireless networking. Ericsson’s Private 5G network will enable cellular connectivity for the lab-to-life innovation platform at the Purdue University Airport,” said George Mulhern, head of Ericsson Enterprise Wireless Solutions. “This unique collaboration enables trials and industrialization of 5G applications and use cases that help solve aviation market needs—improving flight safety and enhancing passenger experience, as well as increasing efficiencies and cost savings.”

This platform is intended to showcase how state-of-the-art airport systems can work with 5G technology,” added Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab in the U.S. “By combining airside and landside operations to improve airport efficiency and planning, the platform at Purdue will help us continue that journey.”

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