New router boosting Internet speed at airport terminal by factor of five on average

For the better part of a decade, finding a way to speed up Internet service at Hannibal Regional Airport had been high on the “to do list” of George Walley, a member of the city’s Airport Advisory Board. Earlier this year that objective was accomplished when Walley installed a new Internet service device.

The fixed LTE (Long Term Evolution) cellular link router device has boosted the speed of Internet at the airport terminal by a factor of 5 megabits (MB) per second when downloading and 2 MB per second when uploading. That is compared to 0.5 MB per second when downloading and uploading most of the time from the airport’s previous connection.

While happy to have found faster service, Walley is quick to salute those who made Internet service possible at the airport previously.

“We thank RCEC (Ralls County Electric Co-op) and Northeast Power for helping maintain a link these past many years,” he said. “Lynn Hodges at RCEC maintained their last remaining wireless link of their old point-to-point wireless Internet service because the airport had no options.”

Walley estimates his search for higher-speed Internet at the airport had been ongoing for a decade before conversations began heating up late last year with Chariton Valley. However, before entering into an agreement with Chariton Valley, Walley looked long and hard for a fiber option, especially when Survival Flight expressed interest in putting its headquarters at the airport.

While Walley could find those willing to provide fiber to the airport, it was not at a cost that would “fly.”

“ATT, Bluebird, Charter/Spectrum, Socket and others are willing to bring fiber to the airport but the costs are prohibitive,” he said. “The lowest price per month has been from ATT in the low $400s per month. There is just no justification for that expense.

“As new hangars arrive with clients wishing to have streaming security cameras, that could change quickly as we develop a ‘neighborhood’ of users at the airport sharing the bandwidth.”

With the enhanced service has come an increase in cost. According to Walley, RCEC was charging $40 per month. Chariton Valley’s service is $80 per month with unlimited data. Barron Aviation, which has a base of operations at the airport, currently pays for the airport’s Internet service.

While the airport’s Internet service has improved significantly the search for yet faster service continues.

“Chariton’s service is a ‘better Band-Aid’ than we had before but it still does not allow us to implement video security devices and other security measures,” said Walley.

While the improved Internet service at the airport will benefit aviators needing to update their flight plans and check current pilot weather briefings, that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what faster Internet service could mean at the airport.

“Having quality business speed Internet at the airport attracts more corporate use of the airport since the commercial pilots often have to stay at the airport while their clients conduct business in the community,” said Walley. “It also adds to the business amenities value of relocating/expanding a business in Hannibal. Several Hannibal businesses with headquarters elsewhere utilize corporate aircraft to and from our airport multiple days of the week.

“Lastly, Hannibal has gone on record with the FAA and MoDOT Aviation that it wishes to attract non-aviation businesses to the airport. Those government entities have the final say as to the appropriateness of the proposed business, but the presence of broadband Internet services at the airport would increase the marketability of the concept.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com