Sochi Winter Olympics: The Technology Games

By Bethany Bradsher, February 4, 2014

The first Winter Olympics in history, contested at Chamonix, France in 1924, included 16 nations competing in just 16 events. Photos from the competition show speed skaters racing in coats and ties and a four-man bobsled that is essentially a larger version of the sled children use today to coast down the hill in their neighborhood.

Ninety years later, the organizers of that quaint “International Winter Sports Week,” as it was also known, would not recognize the behemoth that will open on Thursday in Sochi, Russia. When an operation as ambitious as the Olympic Games intersects an era of increasingly sophisticated technology, the result is a spectacle of mind-boggling breadth in both cost and innovation. With plans like these, it’s no wonder that these Olympics are being referred to as the Technology Games:

Digital Networking

This is the third consecutive Winter Olympics for which Avaya (or Nortel, the company it acquired in 2009) is the official network provider, but the landscape is worlds different than it was when the company wired the Vancouver Games in 2010.

First of all, the ratio of wired-to-wireless users, which was estimated at 4:1 four years ago, is the reverse for Sochi, as the number of wireless devices in the hands of people attending or participating in the Games has multiplied. Add to that trend the vast area of this year’s competition (Sochi itself is 90 miles long, and some events will be held outside the city limits in the Caucausus Mountains) and the challenge facing Avaya is historic.

According to an article in Avaya’s in-house newsletter: “Avaya is building its most ambitious network ever: one that will be virtualized, multiservice, all-IP, fabric-enabled—and able to support tens of thousands of device-toting Olympic employees, volunteers, athletes, media, and others while providing up to 54 terabits per second of bandwidth.”

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