Telecoms invest in networks to tap Rio Olympic biz

FIFA Brazil
Telecom network operators are making huge investment to tap the opportunities from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The latest reports from Brazil suggest that telecoms have allocated a budget of R$1.5 billion or £344 million to telecom infrastructure and facilities to manage data growth during 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in August 2016.

Brazil, which has been facing recession and economic crisis, for two years now, is expected to get a boost from major investments made during the event, beginning on 5 August 2016 and lasting till 21 August 2016.

Net Investment and Statistics

A total of 25 billion reais ($7.1 billion) has been invested in Brazil’s infrastructure including toll roads, ports and other projects, in preparing for the Olympics.

With the total crowd attending the event to be expected to top the charts of Olympic events, with an estimate of about 50 percent more population than the last event held in London in 2012, all Brazilian telecoms are gearing up to meet the upsurge in users trying to cope up with the demands and requirements, along-with enhancing the regions telecommunications infrastructure.

A total of 27 million voice calls will be made and 3 million SMS messages will be sent during the competitions, suggest analyst reports from Embratel.

Maximum data consumption will go to photos and video posts by videos across the 3G/4G network already in place added the report. With more venues and more sports, print output will be about 30 percent down than the London Olympiad.

Telecom Investments

Recent 4G spectrum auction witnessed the four major telecom operators such as Telefonica Brasil, Claro, TIM and Oi, bidding a total of around R$ 2.5 billion.

Telefonica Brasil (Vivo), the telecoms leader in Brazil, had earlier revealed plans to invest BRL25 billion ($7.2 billion) between 2015 and 2017 with about BRL 8.8 billion in 2016.

TIM Brasil, ranking second, has put in more than 3 billion Brazilian reais per year over the last four years to increase capacity and extend its network coverage. It will also be investing BRL 14 billion in Brazilian operations during the following three years period up to 2018.

America Movil, boasting of around 300 million subscriber base globally for its mobile, pay TV, OTT, broadband and landline services, is set to provide multi-platform coverage of the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. In a first, the subscribers can access about 20 Olympic events live streaming simultaneously on a range of devices, from desktop computers to tablets and smartphones.

The company acquired exclusive broadcast rights for the event, two years back. The company also revealed that the three biggest telecommunications companies in Brazil namely Claro, Net and Embratel, which are its subsidiaries, will work together to meet the heavy demand during the Games, which is expected to be four times that of the previous Olympic event in London. The company has invested R$30 billion in various infrastructure projects in Brazil.

Claro, trailing behind TIM Brasil, with a 60 million customer base in 3,560 cities and towns, is a subsidiary of America Movil, and is enabling its network for attending the high demand for the Olympic Games in 2016. The company has invested 6.3 billion reais or $2.59 billion since 2012 out of which around 3.5 billion reais has been invested in 2016 for improving its network.

In the meantime, Oi, Brazil’s fourth-largest mobile operator, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company’s exit from the market would leave Telefonica’s Vivo, Telecom Italia’s TIM, and Carlos Slim’s America Movil as the dominant mobile service providers in the country. The telecoms sought bankruptcy protection after trying unsuccessfully to restructure $19 billion debt.

Technology and Infrastructure Providers

Atos, responsible for the Technology Operations Center (TOC) for the Games, will supervise IT systems providing staging of the competitions and overseeing all 144 competition and non-competition venues.

Cisco, which is also a sponsor of the event, will implement a 358 kilometer fiber optic network and will be giving free Wi-Fi in 60 Olympic facilities, 7000 Wi-Fi access points, and 100000 LAN portal networks and will install firewall and intrusion prevention system equipment alongside managing security of redundant devices.

Embratel, the telecom infrastructure partner, has a 55,000km optic cable network and two data centres, and will provide services such as voice and data, high-resolution video broadcasting and unified communications.

Embratel and Claro plan to implement 180 mobile stations and 40 dedicated coverage stations. Around 8,000 Wi-Fi spots will be implemented by cable TV operator NET.

Embratel is also responsible for hosting the ticket sales website, with 8 million tickets expected to be sold through the online platform. Other technology partners include Samsung, Panasonic, EMC, Microsoft, Omega and Symantec.

Possible Concerns

In-spite of the above investments and modifications in the telecom infrastructure and networks, low bandwidth and other frustrations for users and developers etc are highly likely.

Olympic budget has suffered due to recession and the planned amount of R$2 billion worth of public sector resources for technology sector to host the overall Games, could not be organized.

Rationalization of space, infrastructure optimization, and shared use of equipment are some solutions that can handle the pressure and demand from the users up to an extent.

Connectivity has been an issue with the previous Olympiads, and with the local infrastructure and the increased demand for mobile data not meeting the standards of developed countries this year round, it is expected to be a greater challenge.

Also, both website and mobile developers design software based on speeds available in their country of residence, which may lead to the apps not functioning efficiently while in Rio, which has not reached the speed ranges of the likes of the developed countries.

Also, to avoid security lapses the entire IT system for the Games has been run on the cloud instead of physical servers, with around 10 percent hackers reported being connected to cyber-crime and the hacking network Anonymous shutting down the official website of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on May 11 and Ministry of Sports, Brazil on May 12.

Even then, a report from Kaspersky has stated that 18 percent of the Wi-Fi networks were un-encrypted, with other 7 percent using WPA-Personal encryption, which can be easily hacked.

Despite all constraints, Rio Olympic is offering huge opportunities for sports fans. Even if you are not going to Brazil to watch the live programs, TV channels and video channels will be ready to reach your living rooms and smartphones.

Vina Krishnan
[email protected]

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