The 2010 Vancouver Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics, February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia (Google Earth Map), will bring together the world’s best athletes from more than 80 countries along with 10,000 media representatives and three billion TV viewers.

One half of humanity is expected to tune in or download video during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It will be the first Winter Olympics available entirely in high definition.

CTV, the largest privately owned network in Canada, outbid the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Here’s the West Coast schedule. NBC is delaying broadcasts of major events until prime time, but event coverage is available online, in high-definition (but not live in the United States).

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at BC Place Stadium. A total of nine competition venues are spread across Vancouver, Whistler, and the neighboring areas of West Vancouver and Richmond. The total cost of the Games, including all the infrastructure improvements for the region, is estimated to be $6 billion, with $600 million of the spending directly related to hosting the games.

The International Broadcast Centre, with six studios and five control rooms, is now the world’s largest broadcasting facility. It supports telecasts from 80 broadcast rights holders from around the world. Every second of every sporting event will be recorded in high-definition TV with surround sound.

The host broadcaster, Olympic Broadcasting Services Vancouver (OBSV), provides each international broadcaster with video and audio feeds. OBSV is a subsidiary of the IOC’s new in-house broadcasting unit.

Canada’s Telesat, the fourth largest fixed satellite services operator in the world, has a growing lineup of HD channels on Anik and Nimiq satellites that serve North America, and Telstar satellites that serve international markets. Intelsat will provide international services for broadcasters and an SUV equipped with a mobile Intelsat uPod.

AT&T connects NBC’s space in the Vancouver IBC to NBC facilities in New York, and provides back-up and multiple transfer paths. AT&T owns or leases capacity on more than 70 submarine cable systems, which span more than 456,000 fiber-route miles around the globe.

AT&T and NTT Communications operate the Trans-Pacific Express, the newest transpacific cable, with a design capacity of up to 5.12 Tbit/s. Trans-Pacific bandwidth demand grew at a compounded annual rate of about 64% between 2002 and 2007. Bandwidth demand is expected to roughly double every two years between 2008 and 2012. Level 3 Communications, is working with France Télévisions to help deliver the Winter Olympics to online and mobile audiences. Delivery of the games will be managed and monitored from the Level 3 Broadcast Operations Centre in Dublin.

Bexel is providing fiber to the International Broadcast Center, and other venues. Cameras on Whistler mountain are fed via fiber to the production trucks located at the base of the mountain more than 3 miles away. Bexel is mounting its largest effort ever for the Vancouver Games. The company is providing Sony HD cameras, control rooms, edit rooms and engineering support at different venues in and around the Winter Games.

High Definition production vans from Game Creek, F&F, Dome Productions, Mira Mobile and Corplex will be working side-by-side with their European counterparts Alfacam and SBP. Altogether, more than 24 High Definition mobile production units will be deployed throughout the Games.

Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, 63-member multilingual broadcast team, will deliver the Games in in 22 different languages and will air a combined total of 421 hours of multilingual coverage throughout the 17 days of the Games to Canada. CTV and Rogers Media will provide coverage and interactive Viewers’ Guides. They will use nearly 40 Hitachi SK-HD1000 HD studio/field cameras. Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium will use production switchers and video servers from Ross Video in its Olympic HD production control rooms.

Nine Polecam systems provide crane shots from the Winter Games. Oregon-based Fluid Images makes 100 ft camera cranes, the world’s longest. IDX wireless SDI camcorders can transmit 1.243 Gbps, without compression, using the 5 GHz band with a range of 150 feet line of sight. The combination transmitter and receiver, retails for around $6000. Nucomm has a variety of wireless links for camcorders and aircraft while Vislink, used by ESPN Sports, cover the frequency range from 1GHz to 7GHz.

Over 120 “specialty cams” will be used at the 2010 Olympics, including “helmetcams”, “cablecams” (on overhead cables), “railcams”, (on tracks), as well as cameras attached to snowmobiles, helicopters, and indoor blimps.

Helmetcams like the ContourHD deliver the athlete’s point of view (video). Everyone on a ski team wears a camera or no one does,” explains Calgary’s Stanley Hayer.

NBC Universal owns the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games, through 2012, which includes Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012. Their staff in Vancouver will number over 2,000. NBC will lose about $250 million airing the Winter Olympics, GE Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin said in December. Ad sales in Vancouver will be $650 million to $700 million, but the rights to the Vancouver Games alone reportedly cost NBC $820 million.

NBC Universal’s Olympic coverage will represent a big jump in volume from the last Winter Games — 835 hours across its broadcast, cable and digital platforms, compared to 419 hours from Torino, Italy, in 2006.

Cisco is collaborating with NBC to provide a medianet – a media-aware Internet Protocol (IP) video network infrastructure that will enable real-time editing of content by NBC personnel in multiple international and domestic locations, and allow gigabyte-sized files to be transmitted between locations and then delivered to TVs, PCs and mobile devices.

Inlet Technologies will provide live streaming and VOD solutions for the Microsoft Streaming online video for NBC Universal. Inlet’s Spinnaker encoder will provide HD streams in real time at resolutions up to 720p. Spinnaker also will enable NBCOlympics.com viewers to easily switch between multiple events. An integrated storage and tapeless production workflow support NBC’s coverage that leverages high-capacity Omneon MediaGrid active storage system and the high-performance EVS XT production server, for fast, access to live and near-live HD broadcast production.

NBC will stream live coverage using Microsoft Silverlight, using technology from Akamai and IStreamPlanet. That will enable NBC to broadcast HD video online. There will be 23 video feeds, nine feeds set up from the venues, four broadcast feeds, six “Beauty Cams”, two victory ceremony feeds, one feed of Olympic News Channel and one feed from the press conferences. The video will both be live and on-demand.

NBC and Microsoft are getting back together for a full Silverlight experience. This time you’ll have DVR control of the video, including rewind, sharing, and saving clips. There will be a Facebook Connect feature to allow you to socialize, and a Deep Zoom photo gallery. Related article from TechCrunch.

NBC will stream every single second of the Games live online, streaming five of the networks online as well as every single international feed online. There will be between 12 to 14 streams going at once. This is where the Games have really advanced.

Verizon will make the 2010 Winter Olympics available to Verizon’s FiOS TV, broadband and wireless customers. Verizon will offer subscribers access to content across multiple platforms, including an enhanced, interactive TV experience, video on demand, high-def TV, broadband and Verizon Wireless’ V CAST service.

The Olympics are perhaps the most complicated event on Earth, and require the most elaborate communications network in the world. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is calling it the IP-Olympics: the first Internet Protocol converged network at any Olympic Games. It will be the largest all-IP video network deployed for a televised sporting event, says Cisco, and highlights their all-IP next-generation network optimized for rich media.

Bell Canada is providing voice, data, Internet, wireless, cable TV, broadcast and the Vancouver2010 portal via an IP infrastructure. “IP infrastructure simplifies the logistics of delivering these services and provides the end users with more flexibility, service capability and bandwidth,” said Justin Webb, Vice President of Olympic Services for Bell. The Vancouver Olympics website is expected to receive an estimated 1.5 billion page views in 17 days. “We will be the busiest sports site in the world,” said Webb.

In total, the Vancouver Games required 700km of fibre-optic cable with 144 strands in redundant rings providing 10Gbs Ethernet connections between 15 geographically dispersed venues across a 120km area, with some events held in the resort town of Whistler and in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond.

The fibre route from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler is supported by 35 cell sites. The first solar powered cell site in Western Canada is located on Anvil Island, to provide 24-hour coverage to this once dead zone.

Located within Canada Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre on the city’s downtown waterfront, the Main Media Centre (MMC) provides a common location for press and broadcasters.

Here’s a Google map of venues.

Vancouver’s SkyTrain uses Alcatel’s SelTrac signalling technology to run trains automatically. It was one of the first fully automated rapid-transit systems in the world, and remains the longest today.

Lead integrator for the 2010 Olympics is Atos Origin. Magnus Alvarsson is in charge of making sure all the PCs, phones, servers, and other gear are up and running so that the judges can judge, the athletes can perform, and the media can write about it all.

The network will provide all voice, data, and broadcast services for fans, media, and 90,000 athletes and officials from around the world. This includes provision for an estimated 10,416 hours of dedicated TV broadcast coverage to more than 3 billion viewers and 400,000 private radio calls. After the games, the entire 123km-long Sea to Sky corridor will have improved individual and business connectivity from the fibre network as well as contiguous wireless coverage.

ADC is providing wireless distribution systems to over 15 venues, using nearly 800 antenna units and nearly 200,000 feet of copper cabling. These microcell systems are powering service for all three major Canadian wireless operators, in support of their roaming arrangements with a worldwide network of wireless operators. ADC’s distributed antenna systems (DAS) was utilized at the XLIV Superbowl stadium in Florida last week.

AT&T is the only mobile phone carrier that will deliver live video coverage from the Vancouver Games. Rogers’ HSPA+ upgrade is said to give it a peak speed of 21Mbps downstream and about 5.76Mbps for uploads.

The NBC Olympics 2Go channel with be on both AT&T Mobile TV and MobiTV, beginning Feb. 12. Separate from the agreement with NBC Universal, fans can enjoy access to Team USA On Demand videos, interviews and features of U.S. Olympic Team athletes on att.net/TeamUSA.

The summer 2008 Olympics in China was the largest digital event to date, and NBC executives were “stunned by the 6.5 million unique visitors coming to its mobile Web site during the games.” But with smartphone adoption and data consumption “steadily increasing since, this Olympics could draw even bigger crowds to the mobile phone.”

The NBC Olympics mobile site added two apps and new social media features for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry phones. In addition, NBC said they have been able to attract advertisers to mobile — not because it was part of a larger media TV or online buy, but because of the strong performance numbers from Beijing. Users will be able to personalize the site for their favorite sports, or their region with content from the local NBC affiliates.”

Bell Canada has exclusive rights for mobile phones. Users can tune into seven live channels from TV networks — including CTV, TSN, Sportsnet and RDS — and nine special venue feeds, which offer uninterrupted views of the action. There’s a $10 fee for existing Bell customers to get access to the video streams, while new customers can buy a bundle of services. But that price does not include data fees.

A dozen new iPhone apps, available through Apple, will help you stay informed and connected. Samsung, an Olympic sponsor, will post daily blog entries from their website.

Vancouver-area mobile users can use the WiMax link to watch the events anywhere, notes Going WiMAX. Craig Wireless Systems built the WiMax network, with the help of Motorola.

Craig Wireless (wikipedia), will have the first commercial deployment of Motorola’s Mobile WiMAX technology in Canada.

Craig Wireless holds or leases licenses for spectrum in the 2.5GHz, 2.6GHz or 3.5GHz bands in the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia, Canada, and the Coachella Valley region, California, United States. The Motorola 802.16e gear used by Craig Wireless will likely perform better than competitor Inukshuk Wireless, which used pre-WiMAX gear in their early nationwide system.

You can Get Inside the Games with Google Maps and check out Google’s Streetview Snowmobile.

Google’s Street View team decked out a snowmobile with cameras to capture several runs on Whistler Blackcomb Mountains.

In 2004, the operational cost of the 2010 Winter Olympics was estimated to be $1.354 billion. As of mid-2009 it is projected to be $1.76 billion, all raised from non-government sources, primarily through sponsorships and the auction of national broadcasting rights.

NBC will pay $2.2 billion to televise the Vancouver and London Olympics.

The Torch Relay, a significant part of the Games since 1938, kicked off on October 30 in Victoria, BC. The Relay is visiting 1,037 communities during its 28,000-mile (45,000 kilometer) journey as it parallels the path of the northern lights. It arrives in Vancouver this Friday for the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics, February 12, 2010.

Panasonic will capture US Speedskating competitions in 3D to create the first living 3D HDTV chronicle of an Olympic sport. Viewers of the London 2012 Olympics will be able to watch all the action in 3D from the comfort of their home, if Sky has anything to do with it. Roger Mosey, the director of the BBC’s 2012 Olympics operation, said the BBC should be looking to capture some of the Games in 3D.

Winter Olympics broadcasters include the BBC, CBC, CTV, Sky News, France 24, Al Jazeera, TeleSUR, Foxtel, Telefónica, European Broadcasting Union, Cable TV Hong Kong, NHK, All-Russian State Television, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, and others. Personal live streams are available from Ustream, Justin.tv, TVU Networks, and LiveStream. SopCast has a variety of sports feeds.

Facebook and Twitter will compete for Olympic Glory, says the NY Times. Twitter has verified Olympians. Alex Huot, the newly appointed head of social media for the International Olympic Committee, believes “Vancouver is going to be the first social media Olympics.” Athlete blogs and social networking was frowned upon by the IOC until the Beijing Summer Games in 2008. Now the 2010 games are all over Twitter, with Olympians on Twitter including @ShawnWhite and Speed skater Alison Baver. Here are some Flickr photos.

More info at ESPN.com, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News Sports Shooter, Rob Galbraith, PaidContent, NYTimes.com, and other Sports Television Networks. Yahoo Full Coverage and Google News have additional news and links.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Olympic Coverage: Free Space Radical, Social Olympics, Microsoft’s Streetside: Indoors via Stills & Video, 2010 Winter Olympics, 2008 Summer Olympics: On Demand, Super Bowl XLIV .

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