Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Airport to get cell-phone friendlier

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — It should soon be easier to make a cell phone call at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, even in the underground train between terminals.

        The airport board Monday hired an outside consultant for $80,000 to help find someone to install and manage new receiving and transmitting antennas within the airport — now served only by off-property antennas.

        “This could make money for us ... and will help our emergency response as well,” said Ted Bushelman, airport communications director.

        The agreements with CDI Communications Con sultants call for the Houston-based company to find separate companies to manage voice and data communications.

        That manager would pay the airport an amount yet to be determined per call, as well as a yearly fee to have their equipment there.

        The manager then would charge service providers to access the central airport antennas. CDI is expected to be finished with its evaluation within five months, meaning a new system could be operational within seven months.

        There is one caveat for cell customers: If their service provider doesn't pay the access fee to the manager, the customer could be hit with roaming charges.

        “That probably won't happen, since the providers want the business,” said Michael Mullaney, airport manager of commercial and business development.

        Airport officials hope the new system makes it safer as well as more convenient for passengers. Wireless communication for emergency services can sometimes go out in the tunnels and elsewhere around the airport.

        “Sometimes, the paramedics can hook someone up to a machine and the hospital can tell them what to do by looking at the chart,” said Mr. Bushelman. “But in the tunnels, they couldn't do that.”


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