Cisco Wireless Technology Helps ADP Télécom Spread its Wings Beyond Core Airports Service
November 29, 2004
By Jason Deign, News@Cisco
Today it's not just aircraft that are taking off from airports around the world. Estates management, terminal design and retail operations are just some of the areas that have yielded success and profits for the world's top airport operators.
But the French company Aéroports de Paris (ADP) has added a more unusual service to its portfolio: telecommunications.
Using technology from Cisco Systems®, the firm, through its wholly owned subsidiary ADP Télécom, has carved out a valuable niche for itself providing telecommunications (and particularly wireless) services - and not just in airports.
The company was originally set up to manage the telecommunications infrastructure across ADP, which runs 14 airports and aerodromes in the Paris region, including the country's biggest air hub, Roissy Charles de Gaulle.
In the last year and a half, however, it has applied the experience gained from introducing Wireless LANs (WLANs) across airport terminals to other areas that Jerome Castaing, ADP Télécom's director of Development, describes as "large and complex sites with people in transit."
This experience, and the reliability of the Cisco equipment that it uses as standard, has allowed ADP Télécom to become a major provider of wireless and telecommunications services to owners of these sites, which include airports, business hotels, conference centers and exhibition spaces.
Earlier this year, for example, ADP Télécom won a contract to provide WLAN and other telecommunications services for the Paris Expo-Porte de Versailles, the second-largest convention center in Europe.
Critical to the win was the experience gained from installing and managing a WLAN at Le Bourget, an airport on the outskirts of the French capital that also houses an exhibition center hosting the Paris Air Show, the world's premier aerospace event in terms of area and visitor numbers.
The Paris Expo win also capped a run of deals to manage wireless networks for a range of clients including Alliance Hospitality, which owns the Holiday Inn hotel chain, and the 1,000-room Concorde La Fayette on Paris' Champs-Elysées.
This was in addition to introducing wireless access for travelers and workers across Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and a number of other air hubs in France.
Castaing says the Paris Expo deal was a watershed in really breaking ADP Télécom into non-airport services. These now account for a significant amount of revenues to the business and have led to the creation of a specialist unit within the company.
The unit is also developing the company's international business, with activities already up and running in the Middle East and Asia.
"Our sites have a combination of enterprise and mass-market requirements," he says. In terms of technology, this means ADP Télécom needs equipment which is very simple to use and extremely reliable - both reasons why the company now uses Cisco as standard.
There are two further areas in which Cisco technology helps ADP Télécom's business.
One is that it's easy to use Cisco devices and software as the building blocks for the development of new, value-added services.
This is critical to all telecommunications service providers and ADP Télécom is no exception, not only for its core airport customers, but also its increasingly important non-airport business, both of which have unique communications requirements.
In airports, for example, ADP Télécom's wireless implementation is the basis for applications used in areas from baggage handling to video surveillance, as well as more obvious uses such as Internet access for travelers.
Similarly, other customer groups, such as exhibition center owners, have specific needs that can benefit from value-added services. "The ability to provide services to both companies and consumers is very important for us," says Castaing.
ADP Télécom's second and more unique technology requirement is for equipment that can be configured and reconfigured as easily as possible. "At the Paris Expo, for example, the environment changes on a daily basis, from one exhibition to the next," says Castaing.
"Throughout the site, walls are constantly being torn down and rebuilt - so it is important that the network can be reconfigured just as easily."
ADP Télécom uses the CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine, part of the Cisco Structured Wireless-Aware Network (SWAN), to automatically reconfigure the elements across its WLAN networks, which contain more than 1,000 access points.
"It's important for us to easily manage and configure the network - and to be able to trust it," says Castaing. "With Cisco, we know it is going to work."
Christophe Servais, who is in charge of service provider wireless in the Product and Technology Marketing Organization at Cisco, adds: "ADP Télécom brilliantly turns the advanced features of Cisco SWAN into business advantage for their customers.
"This approach opens new markets for ADP Télécom and we are proud to provide the network that supports it."
Jason Deign is a freelance journalist located in Barcelona, Spain.
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