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Case Study: Caterham F1 boosts productivity with mobile communication network

Clare McDonald

The public face of the Caterham F1 Team may be a green Formula One car whizzing round a track, but mobile communications plays a major role in making sure everything is ready for race day.

As the team's official mobile telecommunications partner, mobile operator Truphone provides Caterham F1 Team with a telecoms network to support global communication as and when it is needed.

Caterham-F1-trackside-290px.jpg

The nature of the Formula One championship means that Caterham F1 Team, which has been competing in the Formula One Championship since 2012, needs to travel extensively and works worldwide to compete in 19 Grand Prix races.

International mobile roaming is extremely costly, even for Formula One, and although the government recently signed a contract with several UK mobile operators to scrap mobile roaming charges by 2016, this is a long way off.

Mobility of the workforce

"Formula One is very much about mobility; it’s a global sport," says Cyril Abiteboul, team principal of the Caterham F1 Team. "The cost to attend an F1 calendar is in the region of £12m. Just the cost of the freight, the cost of mobile telecommunications, the cost of getting the show ready."

This is without considering the cost of producing the car. Abiteboul says any reduction of these costs can be reinvested in improving Caterham’s competitive advantage.

Through the  Truphone network, calls are routed automatically such that a mobile call is charged at a local call rate as opposed to incurring a roaming charge.

Bill Peters, CIO for the Caterham Group said: "We’re targeting 30% reductions in our overall mobile call cost, which we’re well on our way to achieve due to the Truphone services and the packages that are available to us and have been tailored to us to whichever venue we go to."

Truphone also provides users with local support if there are problems with devices, something that is very important to Caterham F1, as it is vital for every team member to be connected and have the correct equipment.

Peters said: "The service element is absolutely critical to us. The support we’re getting trackside is excellent; it’s not just about taking the battery out and put it back in again."

Worldwide data transfer

Combined with mobile telecommunications is the need for Wi-Fi and data transfer. Caterham has installed a Motorola Wi-Fi network throughout its headquarters in Oxfordshire. Caterham has future plans to use Wi-Fi as part of a wider bring your own device (BYOD) strategy.

The security of the network was as important as speed in this case, as a lot of sensitive data about Caterham’s cars can be passed across the network. 

The network, which was deployed by Toranet, provides wireless intrusion protection system for Caterham's Wi-Fi network, as well as features to enhance the quality of data sharing including network traffic prioritisation and Smart RF.

Communication is key

The Caterham team is constantly doing what it can to shave time off of lap speed, including rapid-prototyping of parts with laser printers and constant monitoring of driving data.

Faults or updates are transferred from the team trackside to engineers back in the Caterham headquarters in Oxfordshire. With last year’s season spanning 19 countries, it’s apparent why a reliable telecommunications system is integral to Caterham’s success.


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