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FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003: Mission Accomplished

10-23-2003
  • Avaya Global Services team quickly navigates obstacles to fieldtournament networks, ensure top performance

When the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 drew to a close on October12, the Avaya Global Services team breathed a collective sigh ofrelief. Network engineers and technicians from around the U.S. hadnavigated a seemingly insurmountable series of obstacles to helpthe Federation International de Football Association (FIFA)successfully field the tournament.

When the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 drew to a close onOctober 12, the Avaya Global Services team breathed a collectivesigh of relief. Network engineers and technicians from around theU.S. had navigated a seemingly insurmountable series of obstaclesto help the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA)successfully field the tournament.

The challenges for the Avaya team began when the SARS outbreakled FIFA to move the globally popular event from China to the U.S.,leaving only weeks to design and install the unique voice and datanetworks needed at tournament headquarters in California and at sixstadiums across the U.S.

For Avaya (NYSE: AV), a sponsor and the Official ConvergenceCommunication Provider for the tournament, the compressed timeframeand unique site requirements were only beginning of thechallenges.

"We knew from past experience that the Avaya Global Servicesdesign and installation teams were accustomed to working with theunexpected, and that's certainly what they got with this year'stournament," said Michael Kelly, head of the FIFA IT Solution."They excelled in doing what we thought was impossible and inquickly finding creative solutions when we needed them."

The Avaya team faced numerous obstacles — from an unexpectedhurricane and computer virus outbreaks to changing networkrequirements. Each required speed, flexibility, responsiveness —and above all, creativity.

Weathering a storm. As Hurricane Isabel barreled up theEast Coast — just three days before the opening games — Avayatechnicians battled wind and driving rain to take down a wirelessnetwork that was ready to support a FIFA accreditation center atRFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Once the storm passed, theequipment was reinstalled in record time.

Site access hurdles. Pro football, concerts,telecommunication carriers and even the Secret Service createdadditional scheduling issues for network engineers. At LincolnFinancial Field in Philadelphia, NFL football commitments delayedaccess to the stadium for a full week, leaving Avaya only ahalf-day to deploy an accreditation network for the first FIFAWomen's World Cup match held there. Similar delays were encounteredat Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., where networks had to betaken down temporarily to accommodate a concert. Service providerdelays in delivering connectivity forced an installation team atone stadium to pack a week's worth of work into two days. The sameteam was delayed yet again when the Secret Service cleared thestadium for a security check in advance of a Vice Presidentialvisit.

Virus attacks. Avaya engineers made a preemptive move toprotect tournament networks from the "MS Blaster" computer virusthat affected so many businesses worldwide, scanning the hundredsof laptop computers used by journalists and photographers toascertain they were virus-free before connecting to FIFA networks.It took about 15 minutes to scan each laptop — a task repeatedbefore each match at each and every stadium.

"There were many daunting tasks for us in trying to stage thistournament with just four months of preparation time, but nothingwas more challenging than getting a communication network in placefor our administrators, teams and journalists covering the event,"said Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia, president of U.S. Soccer andchairman of the FIFA Women's World Cup Local Organizing Committee."Avaya was able to turn on a dime in putting their systems inplace, which included not only the framework for all of ourcommunication, but also initiating a scanning protocol on shortnotice that allowed us to protect tournament networks while helpingus remain responsive to the hundreds of journalists attending thegames."

Changing requirements. Requirements changed over thecourse of the tournament so that networks had to be reconfigured"on the fly." Teams accommodated last-minute requests fromreporters and broadcasters for international lines and dedicatedconnectivity. For the finals at the Home Depot Center, Avayarevamped the network supporting the press delegation — moving it toa larger site and expanding capacity to accommodate the 350reporters and photographers who covered the event. Engineers alsoexpanded the network at FIFA headquarters in California as thetournament progressed to accommodate staff relocating there fromthe East Coast as early-round matches concluded.

Creative solutions. Avaya Global Services teams foundthat the FIFA Women's World Cup project required creativity on botha large and small scale. For example, engineers created a secondarycommunications hub in the media center at Portland's PGE Park toavoid what would have been an exorbitant expense to run cables fromthe stadium's telecommunications room. The solution minimized costsand also eliminated any disruption to the facility's existinginfrastructure. On a smaller scale, installers at Columbus Crewstadium in Columbus, Ohio, used Tupperware® containers to createimpromptu shields for cable relays that were exposed to theweather.

"Though we've dealt with a wide range of hurdles and with highlycompressed timeframes, in many respects the challenges we've facedwith FIFA Women's World Cup are similar to those our Avaya GlobalServices engineers encounter each day as they work with customersaround the globe," said Doug Gardner, managing director of the FIFAWorld Cup™ Technical Program for Avaya. "As a result, our engineershad the experience they needed to respond quickly and effectively.It's our objective to bring the same level of commitment to each ofour customers, regardless the size of their project."

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks formore than 1 million businesses worldwide, including 90 percent ofthe FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is aworld leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP)telephony systems and communications software applications andservices.

Driving the convergence of voice and data communications withbusiness applications — and distinguished by comprehensiveworldwide services — Avaya helps customers leverage existing andnew networks to achieve superior business results. For moreinformation visit the Avaya Web site: http://www.avaya.com

Avaya Global Services
Avaya Global Services includes more than 7,000 consultants andprofessionals and 23 network operations and 13 technical centersworldwide. The Avaya Services team can assess, plan, design, manageand maintain converged voice and data networks, includingmultivendor local area and wide area networks. For more informationabout all offerings from Avaya Global Services, please visit: http://www1.avaya.com/services

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