Airwave is responsible for delivering mission-critical communications to the emergency services throughout the UK. A service which must remain operational even in the harshest of environments and situations.
The Airwave service is based upon TETRA Terrestrial Trunked Radio, an ETSI standard digital Private Mobile Radio (PMR) technology which provides the communication relied upon to keep emergency and public safety teams connected. Airwave works in much the same way as a commercial mobile phone network, using transmitters to provide radio coverage across geographic areas of cells, with users maintaining contact with the transmitters through their radio devices. 24 hours a day, every day, Airwave’s digital voice and data service is trusted by the emergency service teams, as well as other public safety agencies.
Emergency Services At Heathrow
Affini has been providing critical communication coverage solutions for over 35 years including at many of the UKs airports. So when Airwave were looking to extend coverage at Heathrow Airport, Affini provided the specialist knowledge and experience in both distributed antenna systems (DAS) and TETRA that would be critical to the project’s success.
At Heathrow, with its myriad of buildings and physical infrastructure, an airport-wide communication system needs extensive and detailed planning, by experts in radio frequency (RF) to achieve the required coverage and performance.
To ensure that their needs would be met, the end customer was in close dialogue with Airwave as the new network was being designed. Through this early involvement, Airwave soon concluded they would need a company with specialist knowledge and experience to deliver their customers. needs at Heathrow Airport. Airwave’s natural choice was Affini.
Coverage Far & Wide
The Airport’s coverage requirements were specified and this turned out to be almost everywhere!
As Affini was responsible for designing the system, it was down to them to satisfy the end customer that all the airside, landside, public & private areas had the coverage required. In fact, coverage was so important that the customer wanted to independently test the system. This was completed during the final commissioning phase to ensure it met their requirements were fully satisfied.
A Challenging Environment
The network was designed to ensure that users have instant communication, even in remote areas & within the confined spaces of the building and tunnels where radio coverage has often failed in the past. Making this a reality, required Affini’s in-depth skills and expertise in design, to create and construct the wireless infrastructure to bring the network to life.
Due to the size of the airport, this was no minor undertaking. The network’s comprehensive indoor and outdoor coverage is now operational in the following areas:
- All airport terminals
- Public car parks
- Pedestrian subways linking the terminals
- Airside road tunnels under the runway
- M4 spur road tunnel
- One rooftop macro cell inside the airport
- Seamless external coverage from neighbouring TETRA cells outside the airport boundaries
The TETRA system at Heathrow is now fully operational and is the biggest indoor solution in the Airwave network. Affini continues to manage and maintains the network.