The mobile World Cup – the infrastructure and capacity challenge facing Brazilian operators
Millions of people are expected to flock to Brazil during the summer to attend one of the most widely viewed sporting events in the world.
Spectators will be equipped with smartphones and tablets to catalogue every moment, call family and friends or share photos and videos on social media.
With Brazil going through a mobile revolution of its own, mobile broadband subscriptions have increased year on year, the 2014 FIFA World Cup could be the biggest mobile event ever held.
However, the challenges facing Brazilian operators to quickly and flexibly increase mobile connectivity are considerable – the huge strain on Brazilian mobile and internet networks will be unprecedented.
The expected surge in mobile data demand, on top of an already strained network, will require a huge amount of infrastructure and capacity planning, as well as studying lessons learnt from previous major events.
The 2012 Olympics in London, for instance, was considered the most digital Olympics ever, with its high reliance on technology for infrastructure, services and information, as well as consumption by global audiences.
There was a significant dependence on mobile data and the network infrastructure needed to backhaul the surge in traffic.
The event saw over 627,000 Facebook check-ins across the 40 plus Olympic venues.
The surge in traffic meant operators had to quickly provide multiple areas of increased mobile coverage and capacity across venues and the wider city.
At a time where CAPEX for large communication projects is limited, the demand for next generation mobile services requires innovative infrastructure which not only provides the performance needed, but can be deployed quickly and cost effectively.
An approach taken by operators during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and London 2012 was to deploy high capacity point-to-multipoint (PMP) microwave backhaul.
By deploying PMP microwave, operators were able to quickly, flexibly and cost effectively bring the network closer to consumers at demand hot spots (stadiums, highly populated streets, etc) and provide a seamless high quality of service.
PMP microwave creates a sector of coverage from a single hub site which can backhaul a number of cell sites.
By aggregating multiple cell site traffic to a single hub, PMP saves on the large equipment costs of traditional backhaul technologies and is able to intelligently allocate 3G, LTE or Wi-Fi mobile capacity where it is needed most.
As network challenges grow at the same pace as user expectations, cost effective technologies like PMP microwave are particularly attractive to operators where the average revenue per user is low as it delivers every bit of data in the most economical way possible.
Whilst Brazil is on course to stage two major global events, there is huge potential to learn from previous events, global best practices and technologies/applications.
Though the challenges of delivering mobile communication infrastructure for major events are significant, by utilising the best and most innovative technologies, the FIFA World Cup and Olympics will be sure to deliver victory on the track and field that the audience can share the world over.