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World Cup home to the world's biggest network

"Púrpura y oro: bandera inmortal;/ en tus colores, juntas, carne y alma están" -- did you know that La Marcha Real, Spain's national anthem, is on of the very few national anthems that has no words? Though the Marcha Real has no lyrics, lyrics have been written and used for it during Spain's long history, and the words above ("Purple and gold...") are from a version used during the reign of Alfonso XIII. Why this lesson in Spanish history? Because I predict that Spain will win this year's World Cup, beating Argentina in the final (I made this prediction three weeks ago, and I was glad to see these two teams offer the most compelling soccer so far in the tournament).

No doubt the World Cup is a very large sporting event. Experts also say that the tournament is home to the world's biggest communication network built for a single event. More than 15 TB (terabytes) of data -- the equivalent of more than 100 million printed books -- will be transmitted across a converged voice-and-data communications network which links stadia, control centers, management offices, hotels, railway stations, and many other outlets involved in the championship. Since the games began on 9 June, more than 8 TB have already crossed the network.

FIFA, the world's soccer federation, says there are about three billion fans following the games (I suspect this is a bit on the high side: There are six billion people on Earth, so FIFA claims mean the half of mankind is sitting glued to their TV sets these days). By the time the games are over, more than 200,000 people, including the 15,000 sports reporters, will have connected to the network, built and managed by Avaya. Avaya has installed an all-IP network which, for the first time in the history of the games, includes voice as an integrated and not dedicated service, according to Douglas Gardner, managing director of the Avaya FIFA World Cup program. As part of its VoIP service, Avaya is providing a centralized, server-based directory service as well as client software which allows authorized users to make phone calls from their laptops.

Although WLAN technology is widely deployed at all 12 stadia and numerous other official locations, FIFA has required that systems at all these sites be linked by cable as well. "Wireless is great because it gives us added flexibility," Meyer said. "But since we need to ensure connectivity at all times, we need cable and we have plenty of it - more than 8,000km."

Avaya has also invested considerable effort to ensure that hackers cannot interrupt play. The company has deployed several security technologies, including telephone encryption and an intrusion-detection system which monitors traffic around the clock. At the FIFA IT control center in Munich and at other Avaya locations, engineers glued to their monitors can immediately locate and isolate the source of any viruses or network intrusions.

For more on the World Cup communication network
-see this PC Advisor report

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