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By Beth Bacheldor

PCTEL Tests Airport Networks for Compatibility With RFID-based Luggage Tracking Systems

PCTEL has announced that it has tested the cellular communications networks at more than 300 domestic and international airports in support of a major airline’s RFID-based baggage-tracking initiative. The initiative uses RFID scanners that require a reliable connection to a wireless network.

To help the airline choose the best networks for their tracking system, PCTEL compared multiple tier 1 cellular carriers at each airport, according to PCTEL. Its test engineers followed a bag’s journey through the system from check-in, through various holding rooms, to the tarmac, and along the way, they collected RF measurements on both 3G and 4G technologies for each carrier’s network. PCTEL engineers analyzed the data and filed concise reports for the airline. The results determined the best carrier and technology to program the RFID scanners at each airport.

“PCTEL’s combination of specialized test equipment and experienced engineers gives our customers the most accurate possible information on network quality, coverage, and reliability,” Bob Joslin, VP and general manager of PCTEL’s network engineering services, said in a prepared statement. “In the past, when we have conducted network testing at airports, the goal has been to improve service for travelers in terminals, restaurants and other public spaces. But network reliability is even more important for an RFID-based luggage tracking system. Our data gave the airline critical information to make its system as reliable and efficient as possible.”

PCTEL also says it has offered its reports to the wireless carriers at each site. When carriers receive specific testing data for their network, they can identify problem areas and allocate resources to optimize their networks to further increase the connection reliability of the airline’s RFID readers, the company says.

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