Euro 2012’s communications infrastructure to boost football technology

Orange and TP must deliver a communications infrastructure to ensure Euro 2012 is broadcast worldwide without glitches. SearchNetworkingUK discusses the challenges.

With the teams selected and the group draws concluded, preparations for next summer’s Euro 2012 football tournament are well under way in Poland and Ukraine. Technology is a big part of that process, with Orange and Telekomunikacja Polska (TP) building an IT and communications infrastructure in Poland that will support the massive data transmission necessary for the event.

Orange will provide the fixed and mobile telephone services while TP will provide the WAN infrastructure and the Internet links across all of the tournament’s eight-venue estate. The solution will also include a public access Wi-Fi network across public transport and key tourist buildings, including libraries.

The challenge of managing this football technology is no small feat. TP and Orange will provide the following, amongst other services:

• 7,000 Internet and corporate-network access ports
• 1,750 fixed phone lines
• 1,425 mobile phones
• 1,300 LD monitors sourced from Sharp
• 1,000 laptops
• 1,000 TV sets also sourced from Sharp
• 150 wireless access points
• 2,500 km of optical cabling in all facilities
Bit rate of 70 Gbps, enabling simultaneous transmission (also in HD) from 32 cameras
• 800 members of the Euro technological support team.
• Guaranteed 99.999% reliability of the systems and hardware, with the maximal permitted transmission downtime of 26 seconds a day.

The integrated wired and wireless network will provide the service of data transmissions on the basis of fibre-optical and Wi-Fi, ultimately running over a Layer 3 MPLS VPN. The central LAN will connect to two WAN routers located in Poland and Ukraine. These will be monitored around the clock to ensure the above deliverables are met and the tournament runs on schedule with minimal disruption to the teams, viewers, journalists and officials.

The all new football technology system, which has been in development by UEFA, Orange and TP for two years, will link the host cities, stadiums and hotels with UEFA representatives and local organisational committees.

It will also support transmissions from all TV cameras in stadia to UEFA’s many official broadcast partners at the International Broadcasting Centre in Warsaw.

TP is leveraging its existing experience in providing tailor-made IT and communications services, in order to help the tournament air without hindrance or intrusion.

TP president Maciej Witucki explained, “The network we have built with Orange includes advanced end-to-end solutions integrating various systems and applications. It will provide UEFA employees, journalists and commentators [with] data transmission, Internet access and voice communications (fixed, mobile, and IP) as well as help satisfy UEFA’s hardware requirements.”

Sports IT, football technology and communications infrastructure: An evolving art

All IT eyes will be on this project and the football technology. In large part, Orange and TP will be sure to avoid the kind of communications interruption that occurred at the World Cup in South Africa.

In addition, the tournament is being labeled a warm-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, for which Cisco is building a similar communications infrastructure. As such, the company will be under the highest scrutiny from the public to deliver a technological marvel for other events to rival.

UEFA Events SA CEO David Taylor has laid down stiff orders to the firms: "It is crucial we have best-in-class services from Orange and TP, our technology partner, in order to deliver the live match signals from Polish stadiums to UEFA's many broadcaster partners and then on to football fans around the world.”

But Witucki remains unfazed. “We are committed to ensuring we meet all the needs of UEFA, journalists, our clients and customers of the Euro 2012 so that we can be part of the solution to help deliver an outstanding experience of the events for all viewers and fans.”

Part of his confidence comes from early success in the two draws held for the tournament to date.

“We have already passed the first test, supporting the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying draw in Warsaw in February 2010 and last week’s group draw at the Palace of Arts in Kyiv, Ukraine, when we provided communications and data transmission services for UEFA and for the media without any glitches.

“We now plan to create a special lab to simulate the interoperation of the systems for the Euro 2012 team in coordination, where necessary, with the systems of UEFA’s Ukrainian technology partners,” he said.

It is clear that this networking challenge will be a massive task for TP and Orange, but if it runs smoothly, this new virtualised, high-tech Euro tournament could well be an example for other vendors to follow in the years to come.

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