As the 2012 Olympic Games swiftly approach, BT has detailed some of the challenges that they and others involved in the technology side of the Games have faced over the past four years. The communications company will be providing telephone and data connections to Olympic venues, as well as the athlete’s village and Olympic Park.
BT said that London 2012 will be "the most connected games ever” and that they have done everything they can to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, as well as plans to ensure that it all runs smoothly.
Cisco has provided the network infrastructure that will underpin the delivery of data traffic over BT’s network, as well as "network security appliances, routing and switching equipment, wireless access points and controllers, IP telephony, handsets and the call manager system via our Hosted Unified Collaboration Service (HUCS from BT)”.
Alongside Cisco and other partners, the project to put the infrastructure in place has taken four years and has involved heavy testing and practice runs to ensure that the IT aspect of the Games runs smoothly.
BT’s supply is thought to be the "most extensive high-density Wi-Fi network in Europe” and will carry 60Gbps of information during peak times. Whilst there has been a lot of talk recently about whether London’s internet infrastructure will be able to cope with the sheer amount of traffic being sent over the networks during the Games, this has recently been dismissed as it’s thought that enough has been done to ensure networks don’t become overloaded.
"We’ve been training for four and a half years for this fantastic opportunity,” said Howard Dickel, client partner at the BT London delivery programme. "The key thing from a BT perspective is that for the first time we are operating an integrated network.”
He went on to say that the logistics of the event has caused some headaches as BT has a mere six hours in four days between the opening ceremony and the start of events to test communications.
They have supplied FTTP technology to the Olympic Village so that athletes can keep in contact and whilst spectators will also have access to the Wi-Fi, many will have to pay for it.
"Wi-Fi is going to be extremely important for athletes in the village because you want to normalise,” Dame Kelly Holmes told TechWeek. Ms Holmes won two gold medals in the 2004 Athens Games.
"Having access to Wi-Fi in the village gives [athletes] access to friends and family outside the village,” she continued.
Technology director of BT London Delivery Programme, Tim Boden, said that "If the press and the media don’t get the services they need, then the world doesn’t get to see the Olympics.”
The press centre has already been launched and BT says it has had 1000 orders for service in the IBC and 10,000 from the press centre.