Avaya’s wLAN linked World Cup stadiums, officials, volunteers, local authorities and the media in a major feat of networking. Meanwhile, BT has announced widespread wLAN roll-out plans in the UK. These stories highlight that wLAN technology is increasingly viable; converged LAN networking is the next major step in telecoms.
The soccer World Cup featured the world’s largest ever wireless LAN.
Last month’s soccer World Cup had its fair shares of ups and downs and upsets. However, many people overlooked the infrastructure supporting the massive event – the world’s largest wireless network.
The World Cup wLAN, built by Avaya, connected over 20 stadiums across Japan and Korea, supporting tens of thousands of workers. The 802.11b-based converged voice and data network carried four terabytes of information during June: 75 times the volume of information stored in the Library of Congress, and several times more traffic than a large organization.
The network handled systems for scheduling games, accrediting participants, collating game results, tracking inventory, scheduling accommodation and transport, and security. It also carried 100,000 telephone calls a day, which reduced the cost of connecting the stadiums with FIFA remote headquarters by over $200,000.
Meanwhile, UK telco BT plans to launch its own wLAN product with Cisco and Motorola. Trials will take place at several locations, including Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. Commercial roll-out will begin next month with 20 wLAN hotspots, with 4000 planned by 2005.
The World Cup proves 802.11b’s dominance over rival standards, for large networks as well as for the consumer, and the size of the project should kick-start interest in the nascent technology. BT’s announcement is also important: the UK’s incumbent telco can put its full marketing power behind the project, making it a primary educator for the market as a whole.
However, security issues have yet to be resolved; BT recommends that users still maintain a VPN to ensure privacy and security. Interference between adjoining WLANs is also still unsolved, and so BT’s move is likely to start a land rush to occupy the best hotspot sites.
Even so, there is a new, possibly lucrative arena of competition in the beleaguered telecoms industry – and the World Cup proves that it works on a massive scale.
Related research: Datamonitor, Global Enterprise Networking Expenditure (DMTC0820)
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