Engineer olympics

Olympic Readiness of fixed and mobile networks

The UK telecommunications community, including all major Timico network partners, has put in a huge amount of preparation in readiness for the London 2012 Olympics.

This includes additional capacity, network security and the ability to cope with and recover from major network incidents.

As a lead sponsor BT is responsible for all the communications services provided during the Olympics. BT has been active with its customer groups, including Communications Providers such as Timico, to understand capacity demands for core communications services during the games.

These include Data circuits, Wifi, Backhaul for 2G and 3G mobile networks, Broadcast connectivity in the UK and overseas and of course services provided at Olympic venues themselves during the various games and events and key travel points such as airports, train stations and roads.

All the mobile operators, despite not being able to benefit from the publicity associated with being a sponsor, have worked together to provide additional base station and Wifi hotspot capacity at the games. Although some of this capacity is temporary most of it is expected to remain in place for everyone’s benefit post games.

The “Olympic Family” has its own separate mobile and Wifi network at event venues to ensure smooth running.

Network Security
BT already deploys ‘Defence in Depth’ security protections with a multi-layered approach for cyber, physical and human security control. The company also forms part of the Olympic Intelligence Centre which is co-ordinating the activities of all agencies to ensure all necessary counter-measures are deployed to protect critical national infrastructure and in turn all our customers’ interests

There are probably many aspects of network security during the games that we won’t find out about. Public domain information includes:

  • Beefing up of physical security at specific Telephone Exchanges in the London area and tightening up of Exchange Access Policy.
  • Working with the Police on the ‘search and seal’ policy for manholes and street cabinets around the venues and on the Olympic Route Network in the run up to the Games.

The strategy of most telco’s (and I include Timico in this) is to have specialist, dedicated and mobile response teams on call 24×7.

Service Protection and continuity
The three main causes of network outages are failing equipment, physical problems such as theft of cabling or equipment and line breakages and changes to a network resulting in unplanned consequences.

Looking at preparations of our various telco partners suggests that a lot of work has gone in to mitigating these risks. This includes the provision of additional spares at key locations, building of diverse backhaul connections and assessing the condition of individual bits of equipment.

There is also a Service Protection period in place applying additional controls on IT and network changes in the run up and during Games time to protect service to all customers.  This  Service Protection period will run from 9 July 2012 through to 12 August 2012 and then between 27 August 2012 and 9 September 2012. During this time there will be targeted restrictions on large scale changes on core IT and network services in order to protect the networks.

Links below are for specific information provided by our network partners:

Openreach  presentation

O2                  FAQs,   London Network Story,  2012 readiness

Talk Talk     affected exchanges

Virgin Media Business (content coming)

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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