World Cup - Tournament network performing well, says Avaya

Avaya Inc., the networking partner for the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup 2002, says the converged network it constructed for the tournament has performed almost flawlessly and carried just under 4T bytes (one terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes) of data during the first two weeks of the month-long tournament.

The network supports multiple systems vital to the world's most popular sporting event, such as the accreditation system, stadium operations, media relations and the Info 2002 system which supplies real time statistics and match data during the tournament. Also new for this World Cup is a voice over IP telephony system which connects the FIFA remote offices and stadia and is carrying 100,000 calls per day for an estimated cost saving during the tournament of US$200,000, according to Avaya.

With the tournament approaching its climax -- the World Cup Final that will take place here on June 30 -- these systems are in use more and more and Avaya is seeing daily data volume rise to around 500G bytes. It expects the total amount of traffic carried over the network to reach 10T bytes by the final -- that's roughly equivalent to half of all the information in the U.S. Library of Congress and around four times the daily data volume of a major regional bank in Asia, according to the company.

Avaya designed and constructed the network, which links 40,000 network connections in 20 stadia, two International Media Centers and two remote FIFA offices, in the year since the company signed on to become an official sponsor. Doug Gardner, regional managing director for Avaya's World Cup Program said the result is a network that in size equals that of a large university campus or top 200 U.S. company.

The network, which is based on ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) in Japan and Frame Relay in South Korea, is monitored from five centers: at the International Media Centers in Yokohama, Japan, and Seoul, at an Avaya site in Singapore and two additional Avaya sites in the U.S., in Denver, Colorado, and St. Petersburg, Florida. Each center has the ability to immediately take over control of the network should a problem hit the central monitoring centers in Japan and South Korea.

To date, problems have been few and Avaya says packet loss during the first two weeks averaged 0.00001 percent while average roundtrip time between the Yokohama and Seoul media centers has been about 70 milliseconds at peak times.

As the tournament progresses, and data volume increases, the size of the network is gradually decreasing. During the first two weeks of the tournament, 23 sites across the two nations made up the network. However, stadium nodes have been switched off for security purposes after each has hosted its last game.

In running the network, Gardner said he and other Avaya staffers have learned a lot about how to better prepare for the next World Cup, which will take place in Germany in 2006, and also a lot about how Avaya engineers from different countries and with different skills go about working on problems in different ways.

"Planning," he said when asked what was the biggest lesson he would take away from the tournament. "Planning, planning and more planning. We had to do a lot of things and there are a lot of small details that are easily forgotten. For example, nobody thought about making up a small list with everyone's cellphone numbers on it until the last minute."

Unlike the year it had before this World Cup, the company has four years to prepare for the next tournament. It will also provide a smaller network for the Women's World Cup, which takes place in China next year. "You learn what you can do and what you can't do," he said of the work. "Going into 2006, we will be in a better situation and consult with FIFA to provide better tools."

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