Planning for the 2006 Fifa World Cup IT infrastructure has kicked off, with plans to include widespread wireless access and handsets that can switch between mobile and landline connections.
Networking company Avaya is one of Fifa's technology partners for the World Cup, and has already begun work on its part of the project.
Doug Gardner, managing director of the Avaya World Cup Programme 2002-6, told vnunet.com: "There has been three or four years of planning to make sure it goes off right. In the 2002 World Cup there was no mention of the IT, and we aim to do that again in 2006."
The first stadium inspections have been completed, and initial network architecture decisions, such as to use Asynchronous Transfer Mode, have been taken.
Fifa will use a converged network backbone, but Gardner said: "By 2006 we won't be talking about 'converged' any more. Everything will be converged."
Avaya is looking at converged voice and data in stadiums, hotels, railway stations and ticketing kiosks all connected to one network.
The company is also looking at offering journalists and Fifa officials mobile handsets featuring 802.11b session initiated protocol technology which can switch between mobile and fixed line networks.
"At the moment people carry walkie-talkies, mobile phones and have a desk phone as well. With this you don't have to know where people are, you just ring the number," explained Gardner.
Wireless will be offered to journalists on a per-event, per-day or per-team basis, in the press area and on the pitch for photojournalists. "In 2006 wireless will be extensive and integrated," said Gardner.
Arnaud Le Mintier, marketing and TV account director at Fifa, told vnunet.com: "You think the referee has had a good game when you don't see him. It's the same with the IT."
A robust network is also key. In 2002 Fifa received 400,000 emails in one day when South Korea controversially knocked Italy out of the World Cup.
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