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NTT East is integrating local 5G with the Japanese Narita airport wireless systems. The combined network allows smartphones to talk to the airport’s internal terminals using 5G cellular networks.

This week NTT East (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East) and Nippon Airport Radio Services (NAR), announced that they have successfully interconnected NTT‘s Local 5G service with NAR’s terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) wireless communication infrastructure at Narita International Airport.

The 5G network, which is built on NTT’s Giga-Raku 5G managed Local 5G service, will create an “integrated voice communication environment” in the airport ramp area. Consequently, the system will facilitate voice communication between Local 5G enabled devices that are equipped with Push to Talk (PTT) apps and TETRA wireless devices, allowing airport workers to easily switch between private 5G and wireless communications.

NAR’s wireless network uses the WAVE system from Motorola, and the interconnection between Local 5G and TETRA enables voice calls and text messaging through WAVE applications installed on smartphones.

Simplifying mission critical comms

TETRA is a “ground-to-ground” wireless communication infrastructure that more than 80 airports use globally. It is in service in 5 major airports, including Narita International. They use it for daily operations such as ground handling and ramp control as well as mission critical communication in the case of emergency.

One major advantage of the new integrated system will be to get rid of the need for airport workers to carry multiple communication devices. The interconnection between the Local 5G and TETRA will make it possible to handle operations in the Local 5G area using only a smartphone.

By using WAVE as a communication application on a Local 5G environment, one can make voice calls between Local 5G-enabled phones and TETRA terminals (as well as between other smartphones), over a closed Local 5G network.

Expanded use cases

NAR and NTT say they will continue to collaborate to promote the introduction of Local 5G at airports. In addition, they mean to propose the “digital transformation” of airport operations. More concretely, it should achieve this feat by taking advantage of WAVE’s diverse functions and interconnection with TETRA. NTT will also propose WAVE as a communication tool for their Giga-Raku 5G service to corporate factories and warehouses, etc.