OC-48 fiber-optic networks to encircle 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

OC-48 fiber-optic networks to encircle 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

GEORGE KOTELLY

Olympic sponsor BellSouth Corp. plans to invest approximately $50 million to integrate voice, data and video signals over optical carrier, level 48 (2.5-gigabit-per-second) networks to cover the Centennial Olympic Games. Broadcast-quality television, compact-disk-quality voice and computer data services will be simultaneously transmitted over BellSouth fiber-optic ring telecommunications networks, which will be spread throughout Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games to be held next July. They are designed for the communications needs of Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting 1996.

"Sponsoring the Olympics will help develop our markets, find new customers and grow the business," states John L. Clendenin, BellSouth chairman and chief executive officer.

The company`s existing telecommunications infrastructure has been continuously upgraded for 15 years; next year, it will become the telecommunications backbone for the games. "The company has taken an aggressive position in the deployment of fiber in the Atlanta area," according to Marc Hayes, BellSouth director of Olympic operations, "We have 182,000 miles of fiber-optic cable installed. During the first quarter of this year, we added another 6500 miles of fiber."

All of BellSouth`s central offices are interconnected with fiber; there is no copper left. Moreover, fiber occupies most of the feeder routes. Billy Payne, president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, says, "The telecommunications infrastructure that BellSouth has in place was a key element for Atlanta in winning the bid to bring the Olympic Games here."

Fiber-optic rings

BellSouth`s networks will include 18, high-capacity fiber-optic ring networks to deliver multimedia signals. The networks will implement synchronous optical network technology with full redundancy. Should a cable be cut, the telecommunications network will reroute its multimedia transmissions in less than one-twentieth of a second.

Adds Coleman Bentley, BellSouth`s manager of Olympic network design, "The total Olympic network area is estimated to be larger than the size of Connecticut. The Olympic venues spread over that area will all be interconnected with singlemode cable; no multimode cable is being used. The number of fiber strands in the cables will vary from 12 to 216, depending on the expected usage needs at each venue. The major fiber-optic cable suppliers are AT&T Network Cable Systems and Siecor Corp. A typical venue will be served by one OC-48 network over just four fibers."

To collect, process and distribute the immense amount of expected communications, a 500,000 square-foot International Broadcast Center is slated for construction in Atlanta`s Georgia World Congress Center. "The IBC is expected to move information at 100 Gbits/sec during the games. In terms of transmission capacity, the center will be the largest installation in BellSouth`s Olympic network," says Hayes.

The broadcast center is slated to use more than 40 OC-48 terminals, as well as their support multiplexers, from AT&T. Video signals will be processed using Alcatel Network Systems Inc. coders and decoders. Support equipment for handling television voice commentaries will use SLC-2000 access systems from AT&T. Following delivery to the broadcast center, all the voice, video and data signals will be transported at OC-3c rates for integration by the OC-48 terminals.

"There`s no throwaway money here," says Hayes. "All the equipment has immediate and planned reuse. It`s being installed with the purpose of eventually taking it out, so it`s going into temporary structures, such as concrete huts, controlled environmental vaults or equipment cabinets. After the Olympics, the equipment will be moved to other destinations throughout BellSouth`s nine-state region."

To furnish studio-quality television pictures to the broadcast center, the analog-based national television standards committee broadcast video signals will be transported in uncompressed digital format. Encoders and decoders will translate the analog video into OC-3c (156-megabit-per-second) payloads for transmission on the OC-48 rings.

The video and audio signals will run at an expected signal-to-noise ratio near 70 decibels, and the audio channels will employ a 20-kilohert¥bandwidth. "Both [parameters] surpass the Electronic Industries Association RS-25O-C standards for National Television Standards Committee broadcast quality," says Hayes. The bandwidth required for the anticipated video should exceed more than 400,000 voice-grade telephone circuits.

Manolo Romero, managing director of Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting 1996, says the organization will cover 271 Olympic events with 400 cameras, providing more than 3000 televised hours of Olympic competition. More than 40 mobile televisions serving 170 worldwide broadcast organizations units will be employed.

According to Paul Harman, executive director of the 1996 Olympic Program, BellSouth will invest $20 million in voice communications services from the BellSouth family of companies--including BellSouth Telecommunications, BellSouth Mobility, MobileComm and RAM Mobile Data--for delivery to the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and the United States Olympic Committee.

BellSouth will add approximately 15,000 temporary access lines; 2400 audio circuits and more than 200 digital video circuits to cover the games` extraordinary needs, which include the 150,000 Olympic officials and participants, as well as the estimated 2 million spectators who will converge on Atlanta. BellSouth officials estimate that growth in the region, spurred by the Olympic Games, will create demand for an additional 11,000 permanent access lines.

For the Olympic Games, 41 venues and 11 cities will be linked into the BellSouth telecommunications network. To include outlying venues around the region, BellSouth is extending its existing network by laying additional optical fiber and installing multiplexer hardware capable of handling the mass of information expected.

Two-thirds of the world`s population--more than 3 billion people--are expected to watch the Opening Ceremonies next summer. Olympic officials claim cumulative viewership will approach 35 billion during the three weeks of the Olympic Games.

As a sponsor of the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta--which will occur 12 days after the Olympic Games--BellSouth will make available the same fiber ring networks for the world`s second largest sporting event.

According to Hayes, "Fiber has kept the cost of this telecommunications infrastructure down and yet it allows the synergy of delivering multiple signals such as video, data and voice commentary on OC-3 platforms." q

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