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London 2012: the Olympic Network (part two)

July 18, 2012 - 6 Comments

During my recent visit to London, while at the Cisco House — way up on its perch above the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, I had the opportunity to look out across the huge Olympic Park in amazement. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget — for as long as I live.

Most visitors to the Olympic Park will immediately notice the cluster of majestic sports arenas and a plethora of newly planted landscaping. Besides the obvious, there’s the potential for it to become so much more. This community regeneration project could be the basis for a socioeconomic metamorphosis in East London – a very welcomed new beginning.

In part one of this story, I started to outline the technical building blocks of the BT communication services deployment. Now, I’ll share some additional details about the various services that are being delivered over this intelligent network infrastructure.

Internet Services via the Olympic Network

The provisioning of outbound Internet access services are primarily for the attending media representatives to use and are procured in one of two forms. Large organizations can purchase their own dedicated connectivity — available at 2 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 50 Mbps, or 100 Mbps.

Alternatively, individual users can be provided with a broadband access service that’s delivered via a username and password for temporary network login. This capability enables access to any of nearly 20,000 Internet access ports distributed around the venues or 1000 wireless access-points placed in other office areas.

Inbound traffic will typically support remote access by the official LOCOG staff, and rate card access to dedicated IP addresses.

Hosted Unified Communications Services

The typical network user will also have access to a cloud-based BT Hosted IP Telephony offering that’s provisioned on a secure and resilient platform to support most official voice communication requirements.

This offering supports digital IP phones, conference phones, and connection adaptors which allow analogue telephones to communicate with the IP telephony service. Fax services, however, are going to be provided over standard analogue phone lines.

Available telephones at the venues are provided with IP addresses by the BT Diamond IP service. Connectivity to the hosted platform is over MPLS from the venue PoPs. The BT service also provides telephone switchboard functionality and basic voicemail.

Comprehensive Mobile Communication Services

Of course, for all the public in attendance at the Games, UK mobile network operators will provide services inside the Olympic Park and other competition venues. This will include providing temporary cell-network base stations and some additional in-building infrastructure for use by both the domestic and international mobile service subscribers.

The public network capabilities will also be expanded by BT to address the specific needs of the various categories of official Olympic participants. As an example, they will provision additional capacity in areas where mobile network coverage is limited or non-existent.

Smartphone and mobile-enabled tablet user needs have been anticipated. Both 2G and 3G mobile network services will be provided, with distributed antenna systems and/or supplemental temporary base stations that will deliver the required additional capacity.

Moreover, to maximize the use of available wireless spectrum, all official Olympic mobile handsets will also have access to a private wireless LAN in busy parts of the venues.

Broadcast Video and CATV Services

As I’m sure you can imagine, reliable video communication is a key part of the Olympic network infrastructure. The broadcast network is designed to deliver high-definition (HD) video feeds from the venues outside the Olympic Park to the International Broadcast Centre (IBC)  — where the content rights holders are provided with access to the un-edited video feeds.

Within the London 2012 Olympic venues, BT’s Broadcast Access product provides the ability to transmit uncompressed HD content on a point-to-point fiber optic communication link. It’s believed that more than 200 circuits will be ordered during the course of the Games.

Forty channels of video content will be produced from these feeds and provided to the domestic and international TV network broadcasters who have purchased the rights to present the Olympic Games video content  in their home countries.

That same video content from the sporting event action provides the basis of the CATV services, distributed in-venue over coaxial cable distribution systems.

Most of the Olympic venues will only have access to their local competition feeds — plus a Freeview DTV video package distributed to public TV sets placed throughout the venue. In contrast, the Main Press Centre and LOCOG operational centres will have access to the full Olympic channel package via the video distribution network.

The Continuing Olympic Network Story

Cisco is excited and proud to be the Official Network Infrastructure supporter to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In my next story, I’ll be sharing more background and details about the ICT infrastructure, how it was deployed and some of the lessons-learned from this experience.

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  1. Interesting details about the network not handling twitter traffic - especially when it's now such a popular form of social media.

  2. The Atos CEO, the lead systems integrator for London 2012, shares his perspective in a story entitled "The IT Challenge of the London Olympics" for HBR

  3. Any comment on reports of the network not being able to handle Twitter traffic?

    • @Paul, I've not seen those reports before. Let me see what I can find out, and report back here.

      • @Paul, it was apparently because the GSM network was being used to deliver the GPS data to the motorbikes. That's all we know at this point. ATOS and/or BT may have more details on this story -- i.e. if it was the radio network, backhaul circuits (or perhaps a combination) that was responsible for the reports.

  4. Perhaps you're wondering how these Olympic Park facilities could be re-used for local economic development. This week a proposal was selected to repurpose the Olympic broadcast and media centres; here's the story