World Cup voice, data network includes wireless links

The voice and data network deployed by Avaya to support the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, which kicked off Thursday, is the largest ever built for any sporting event, according to the networking company.

Avaya officials estimate 15 trillion bytes of data (the equivalent of 100 million printed books) will travel through the communications network during the 31 days the soccer tournament takes place. The network connects 12 host stadiums, international media centers in Munich, Berlin and Dortmund and the Berlin headquarters for FIFA, or Federation Internationale de Football Association. Hotels, airports and train stations are also part of a network that will be used by fans, journalists, athletes and others monitoring the 64 soccer matches. FIFA officials estimate the World Cup has a potential audience of billions of people worldwide, taking into account the number of viewers who will watch multiple matches.

Avaya did not release the cost of the network, but spokeswoman Deb Kline said the company has spent US$100 million on its sponsorships of men's and women's world soccer since 2001, including the current operation in Germany as well as networks for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The 2003 tournament had to be shifted suddenly from China to the U.S., and Avaya was able to create a new network in less than three months, she said.

The converged voice and data network has about 45,000 connections and 30,000 network devices and will support player and journalist accreditation, results reporting, materials tracking, ticketing and transportation, Kline said.

The network will also support wireless data transfers, including digital photos by photojournalists. The network is also deemed 99.99 percent available, based on more than 400 tests, according to a statement from Avaya. Details on security were not released, but Avaya said software will allow technical experts to locate the source of any viruses or network intrusions.

(Ed: Best of luck to the Socceroos.)

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