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Sea-Tac airport is getting a major Wi-Fi overhaul. Photo: Don Wilson
Sea-Tac airport is getting a major Wi-Fi overhaul. Photo: Don Wilson

Travelers heading through Seattle Tacoma International Airport already may recognize the free wi-fi, standing work counters and all of the electrical outlets and USB ports — one of the reasons why Fodor’s Travel recognized the transportation hub as one of the most high-tech airports in the U.S.

airport-seatacBut things are about to get a little speedier for those traveling through Sea-Tac, at least for those looking for fast Internet connectivity.

The airport — the 14th largest in the U.S. with 37.5 million passengers last year — is engaged in a $9.8 million Wi-Fi enhancement program to replace a 10-year-old AT&T Wireless Distributed Antennae System.

“The Port of Seattle is working to keep pace with passenger mobility,” Sea-Tac Airport Chief Aviation Technologist Dave Wilson tells GeekWire. “In the Seattle area, with Microsoft, Amazon, and other tech companies, our passengers demand we have a robust WiFi.”

The upgrade includes improving the existing Internet connectivity in the terminal with two high performance Wi-Fi access points in the gate areas. The goal is to increase the number of concurrent users on the Wi-Fi network as people wait for flights.

The airport also is installing a Wi-Fi network on the airport’s main apron, and adding three access points within close proximity to parked aircraft that will be used by airline ground operations personnel and airport staff.

“Our design will support the latest in mobile devices,” said Wilson, noting that it will support 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi radios. Construction of the network is set to be completed by July 2016.

Meanwhile, the old DAS-based system “has surpassed its useful life,” according to the airport.

“Current demand for Wi-Fi access results in poor performance, loss of connection, or no connection at all,” the airport wrote in a memorandum last year. “It is anticipated that an enhanced Wi-Fi system as currently envisioned will provide adequate capacity for the foreseeable future.”

More on the Wi-Fi upgrade from last summer’s memo here:

2014 08 05 RM 6e Memo WiFi Upgrade

News of the Wi-Fi upgrade was first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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