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Aena and Cellnex bring 5G technology to San Sebastian Airport

San Sebastian, 14 June 2023. 

The pilot project involves rolling out the first private network of these characteristics in an airport in Spain.

Spanish airport manager Aena, which ranks number one in global passenger volume, and telecommunications infrastructure and services operator Cellnex Telecom have brought into service the first private network based on 5G technology in Spanish airports. The pilot project is itself one of the first on the European airport scene.

In the wake of the alliance struck between both companies, Cellnex was responsible for installing and rolling out this 5G network at San Sebastian airport, on which various use cases related to drone operations will be developed, mainly in terms of security and advanced monitoring, and to the acquisition, collection and secure processing of environmental data (gases and particles in suspension, temperature, humidity and noise) through the Cellnex SmartBrain Platform.

The fifth generation of mobile communications, better known as 5G, will revolutionise digital transformation processes thanks to its high-speed data transmission, low latency, capacity to manage a high density of connected devices and, in particular, its high availability and reliability. 5G will be a turning point when applied to airports, laying the foundations for the future development of the airport itself and serving as the basis for a wide range of new applications and functionalities that will allow a more efficient and sustainable service.

In this project, Cellnex will enjoy the collaboration of Nokia as its partner for the 5G network, while Inetum will supply and operate the associated drones.

Globally, Aena has identified 5G as one of the key technologies for its digital transformation process.  Although connectivity has been a reality in airports for a few years, the leap to this new technology will make it possible to develop new applications in important fields such as security and operations. 5G will help to further advance the Internet of Things (IoT) and help to implement Big Data, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

This new technology, and its relevant applications and functionalities, will also foster the sustainable management of airport activity, making it compatible with local nature conservation and environmental management.

The importance of having a private 5G network at one of our airports that allows us to test specific airport use cases that require high capacity, low latency and high device density, as well as a new connectivity layer that provides the airport community with a highly reliable and readily available data transmission service.” He went on to state that “performing these tests will allow us to identify the degree of maturity of 5G technology and to see to what extent it can be adapted to Aena’s needs to improve our internal connectivity services.

— Pablo Lopez Loeches

Head of Ideation & Entrepreneurship at Aena

The importance of telecommunications infrastructures and technologies such as 5G in contributing to optimise processes in complex environments like airports, where security and operational efficiency are key, above and beyond connectivity for passengers”, and was “satisfied to work with Aena in this pilot that will serve to lay the foundations for future deployments of this type of network —and its multiple use cases— in Spanish airports; in addition to being able to demonstrate Cellnex’s capabilities as a neutral telecommunications infrastructure operator and its expertise in assisting the deployment of critical networks.

— Miquel Mir, Enterprise Sales Manager at Cellnex Spain highlighted

Enterprise Sales Manager at Cellnex Spain

San Sebastian Airport

Located in the municipality of Hondarribia, 22 kilometres north-east of the city of San Sebastian, next to the French-Spanish border, it is one of Spain’s main airports in the north of the Iberian peninsula. Various reforms have been undertaken in recent years to provide the airport with better infrastructures and services. The installation serves mainly regular domestic and international flights, with 383,000 passengers on a total of 5,600 flights in 2022.

About Aena

Aena is the number one airport manager by passenger numbers, with over 243 million passing through Spanish airports in 2022. The company manages 46 airports and 2 heliports in Spain and participates directly and indirectly in the management of a further 23 airports: one in Europe (London Luton airport, in which it holds a 51% stake) and the rest in the Americas (airports in Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica and Colombia). Aena has recently signed a concession contract for a further 11 airports in Brazil, including Congonhas-São Paulo.

It is a leading company due to its experience, capacity and professional team in airport service management. Aena airports are among the most modern and functional in the world and are equipped with the most advanced technologies. Aena is a responsible company, aware that it must play its role as an economic driver in the areas of influence of airports and has an ongoing commitment to development and sustainability.

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