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Beijing Olympics 2008: Connecting the World

The Olympics gives the world two weeks to pause and marvel at athletes who shine brightly with their intense dedication to the pursuit of excellence, spurred by fierce competition. It’s worth taking a few minutes to note the results of equally intense dedication to televising the Games (also under intense and relentless market competition) with the most innovative technology, bringing the excitement, the drama, and the incredible achievement of the Olympics to as many people as possible. NBC Universal is making broadcasting history this week by presenting 3600 hours of coverage from Beijing, more than the combined hours of all previous summer Olympics Games. Viewers of the 2008 Olympic Games will be able to use their PCs and laptops to access 2,200 hours of video that they can play back on demand, as well as 3,000 hours of highlights, rewinds, and encores. People will also be able to watch video and view results on their smartphones.With all that video to transmit, NBC has selected Cisco to provide IP video network infrastructure and video encoding solutions to NBC during the network’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, including one of Cisco’s Data Center technologies: Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). Rather than sending 400 video shot selectors and editors to Beijing, NBC will be using Cisco WAAS for WAN optimization and application acceleration between Beijing, New York and Los Angeles. By optimizing 35Mbps links into 140Mbps links, Cisco WAAS allows editors and shot selectors to access gigabyte-sized video files over the WAN with the same performance as if they were stored locally. This reduces operating costs of housing, air travel, transportation, and food. Avoiding 800 airplane trips also supports NBC’s green initiatives for the Olympic Games.To transmit video to its studios, NBC has deployed three 155Mbps OC-3 pipes between Beijing and New York. A Cisco 12004/4 Router collapses all three into one virtual pipe using equal cost load balancing. The types of traffic on the network range from video content and IP telephony to teleprompter content and event scoring. Cisco WAAS leverages rather than overwrites router QoS, giving NBC the confidence to dedicate 400Mbps to video, unlike tunnel-based architectures. So sit back, enjoy the Olympic Games this year wherever you happen to be at any given moment. Employers around the world are already anticipating lost productivity due to the video accessibility of the Games, and wondering how their internal networks are going to handle the increased load. I’ll be dutifully watching my favorite events, largely the track and field ones, while my friend Feng who wrote most/all of this posting goes for synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

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3 Comments.


  1. Doug,Very impressive! Thanks for giving us the behind the scenes insights into the enabling infrastructure for the Olympics. Pretty cool! By the way, I’ll be watching the swimming and the gymnastics. My favorites.Best of luck and thanks to Cisco and NBC.

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  2. By optimizing 35Mbps links into 140Mbps links…”"How can you optimize something smaller into something bigger?”

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  3. Tassos,Cisco WAAS optimized 35Mbps links by eliminating repeating byte pattens using caching technology thus creating throughput equivalent to 140Mbps links. See the WAAS page for more info. Michael

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