STF Mag Report: Why diversity of connectivity routes is a necessity for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament

As published in the September issue of SubTel forum magazine

By Brendan Press
September 21, 2022

For many, the FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of sport. Passion, happiness and even desperation combine to produce a concentrated football festival that attracts billions of viewers from around the world. More than half of the world’s population watched the last World Cup in 2018, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino predicts that the number of viewers for this next World Cup will reach 5 billion.

On top of that, the way we consume football has evolved far beyond just watching the games. We now have better access to teams and players. Whether through social media, the breakdown of expert analysis, or fantasy and prediction leagues, the opportunity to engage and get closer to the action has never been greater.

Therefore, as we look to this year’s edition in Qatar – which will mark the first time the tournament will be hosted in the Middle East, as well as outside of its traditional summer slot – an important consideration is to know how the event will be accessible to everyone. So while Ronaldo, Messi and Mbappé may grab headlines, no player will be as integral to the tournament as connectivity.

The World Cup is an engine of development

When the World Cup comes to town, so does the economy. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (the organization responsible for planning and delivering the World Cup) predicts that “the contribution to the economy would essentially be around $20 billion”, – about 11% of Qatar’s GDP in 2019, before the start of the pandemic.

However, realizing this momentum requires investment as there is a need to improve stadium infrastructure and capacity. As the fan experience in stadiums continues to evolve, it is predicted that there will be a 67% year-over-year increase in the use of sports venue data, meaning that stadiums must be equipped with the best mobile and IP-based networks to accommodate this enormous growth. Indeed, the fan experience is such a key aspect of the event that countries are investing a lot of money to ensure it can put on the greatest show. However, the planning goes beyond the World Cup, it is often used as a catalyst to drive development within the host country long after the closing ceremony.

In the case of Qatar, it is investing over $300 billion in the 2022 event. Not only is it building the stadiums, but it is also upgrading its national infrastructure. Al Thawadi also said: “The World Cup is supposed to serve as a driving force to push forward and accelerate many of the initiatives that the government has already embarked on, that it had already planned, whether in terms of urban development or economic diversification.”

The country presented its national vision for the future, with the goal that by 2030′it would be an advanced society capable of sustaining its development and offering a high standard of living to its population”. The event is therefore a key driver in the Middle East’s digital transformation journey and is instrumental in transforming Qatar into an attractive business destination.

Connectivity providers are a driving force

The country’s placement in the Gulf also makes it a viable location to become a central hub of the world for business, travel, and connectivity. In geographic terms, the Middle East is perfectly situated to act as a bridge between the Eastern and Western worlds, and for connectivity this means low latency, high capacity wired routes that can help drive global transformations and economies. .

Its understanding of the geopolitical and regulatory landscapes of surrounding countries also means that organizations based there are valuable partners who can provide seamless access to new parts of the world that would otherwise be difficult to navigate.

However, for Qatar to achieve its goals, the importance of investing in connectivity capabilities cannot be underestimated. Data transfer is the lifeblood of so many aspects of our lives and delivering an unforgettable World Cup to everyone on the planet is an audition on the world stage.

Fans around the world want to seamlessly watch matches and highlights or see what their favorite players are up to between matches, and low-latency, high-capacity cable networks that can handle traffic spikes are key to that. . As such, connectivity companies in the region are increasing capacity, availability, and increasing capabilities to provide improved service.

These upgrades mean that we are already seeing big tech players enter the Middle East, with brands such as Meta, Google, AWS and Microsoft investing. Local customers expect to be able to access services quickly and seamlessly, which is why these companies are elevating diverse routes and locally hosted data centers to the top of their priorities.

In addition to these examples, a successful World Cup will be further proof that the region is home to the ideal connectivity partners for global organizations looking to improve their capabilities at scale, and they are working closely with the Supreme Committee to s make sure that happens.

Why diversification is essential on and off the pitch

The diversification of cable networks will have a huge role to play in ensuring that World Cup content is seamlessly accessible by everyone across the globe for the duration of the tournament, and for the Asia-Europe data stream beyond. of the.

A large majority of cables and traffic between West Asia, South Asia and East Asia pass through Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. This means that a route is responsible for transporting almost all data between regions to provide Asia-Europe connectivity. The challenge here is that this level of traffic creates bottlenecks, and bottlenecks mean outages and high latency – effects that can impact businesses and nations.

To mitigate these costly implications, there is a need to diversify cable routes from Asia to Europe. Instead of almost all traffic passing through Egypt and the Suez Canal, it may instead head north through various overland cable routes that pass through the Gulf, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

This means that if one of the routes fails due to capacity constraints or other reasons, there is an immediate substitute that keeps users connected. This redundancy means a continuous flow of data between Asia, the Gulf and Europe, which will keep football on our screens during the World Cup and – vital – that organizations and countries will stay connected.

The importance of a diverse cable network can be compared to the need for diverse tactics in the field. For example, if a team only attacks on the left, soon enough the opposing team will fix this and place more players on that side to limit movement. Likewise, if they rely too much on a player, if they get injured, it is very difficult to restructure the team in real time. The global strategy can be lost.

Thus, the teams diversify their tactics. Transition from left to right in the middle in order to keep the opponent on their toes and score when they are out of position. Although they also train to ensure that workloads can be distributed between players, which means that the strategy remains even if one player needs to be replaced by another.

In other words, continued investment and diversification in robust cable networks will be a key driver of user experience around the world, during the World Cup and beyond, as the world continues to transform. numerically.

It’s time for Qatar to shine

Come 20e November 2022, all eyes will be on Qatar. The opening ceremony will be immediately followed by the opening match of the tournament – ​​Qatar against Ecuador – and will mark the start of a festival of football which will last just under a month. One of the most watched sporting events in the world, this will be an opportunity for Qatar to show off to the planet and demonstrate why they are best placed to connect the world.

However, the World Cup is much more than a football tournament. It is the engine of investment, long-term strategy, development and a strong economy. The Supreme Committee is committed to organizing an event that will also ensure a legacy and its connectivity partners are working towards this goal. It is clear that the partners are determined to ensure that football fans around the world do not miss a goal and that preparations have been underway for years. They have an unwavering commitment to service continuity that will provide the consistency of services that end users and football fans around the world deserve.

With continued investment in robust and diverse cable trays and their protection, users of these networks are empowered. They feature low-latency, high-capacity connectivity that connects operations in Asia to Europe via diversified routes via Iran, Iraq and Turkey, as well as the most commonly used route via the Channel from Suez.

As the world continues to develop, these diverse connectivity pathways will allow organizations and nations to stay connected, encourage the development of innovative technologies and boost economies. But, in the short term, it means delivering another unforgettable World Cup.

About the Author

Brendan Press is Commercial Director at Gulf Bridge International with over 20 years leading commercial teams to deliver exceptional results across a wide range of disciplines.

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