Heathrow has signed an agreement with air transport IT firm SITA to upgrade its huge communication network.

Heathrow’s Network Tower supports all aspects of the airport’s network, telephony and radio infrastructure and keeps communications secure.

Over the next 16 months, SITA will introduce automation and ‘self-healing’ technologies able to identify and fix problems before they cause wider issues.

It will also turn Network Tower from a localised structure within the airport to a global system, allowing the SITA team to monitor and manage it from anywhere in the world.

Heathrow said the changes would improve the resilience of the network and reduce the time taken to repair issues.

Its network includes more than 12,000 telephones, 150,000 LAN connections, 1,900 radios and more than 3,500 WLAN access points across the airport campus.

SITA was founded by 11 airlines in 1949 in order to form a data-sharing network long before internet systems could do the job. Today it provides IT support to airlines and airports around the world.

Stuart Birrell, CIO at Heathrow, said: “SITA has long been a trusted partner to Heathrow when it comes to managing our communication and IT infrastructure. They understand our requirements and are able to provide an innovative service management solution that is more effective but also can be scaled to meet our continued growth. It is a solution that has ticked all the boxes.”

Sergio Colella, SITA President for Europe, said: “We are proud to deliver a service management solution that supports a more secure and resilient network service to Heathrow, leveraging new technology, our global presence as well as SITA’s strong communications partners. We were able to go the extra mile to ensure SITA can provide the airport with the best service support available today.”