Friday, November 8, 2013

Loucura Móvel: Mobile Data Streams & the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

The telecommunications demands (in particular from mobile users) for the FIFA 2014 World

Cup will be massive. Social media will be at the heart of the techno-user World Cup experience. Brazilians are leading the charge in a region where mobile devices and social media use are growing rapidly.

It will be interesting to see how FIFA positions itself in the open-access arena of social media, and what kind of copyright protocols will be put on media content, from official interviews to matches to user-generated videos and images.

2014 Brazil stands to be the most shared World Cup in history. The global event will be that much more connected with the growth of global social media platforms that even just four years ago in South Africa were not as robust and ubiquitous.

FIFA and many other companies will certainly be looking to capitalize on the local and global mobile market as the entire world turns it economic, social, and technology desires toward Brazil. This fact has not been lost on FIFA media officials, who have launched a YouTube channel called FIFA TV, which is already up and running with features, highlights, news, and match action from previous World Cups.

In a press release, FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated, “FIFA is keen to engage with football fans beyond our competitions by sharing our rich visual content with them, and for this there is no better platform in terms of reach and penetration than YouTube. We want to provide YouTube users with the greatest moments of FIFA World Cup history but also invite them to share theirs with us.”

Not only will the 2014 World Cup be the most shared in history, it will be the most streamed in history as well. And that is a lot of data charges yo.

Writing for ME, Zen Terrelonge noted that consumers might face some sticker shock when it comes to streaming video on mobile. “Sandvine reckons the World Cup 2014 in Brazil will be the most streamed event in history, which will create the most widespread case of bill shock as a result. To put it into context, a three-minute YouTube video would use about 10MB of data, which isn't a lot ordinarily, but it will cost an average of €7 while roaming in Europe.”

The Brazilian government has been ramping-up. State Secretary of Sport and Leisure (SEL) and coordinator of the Steering Committee of the 2014 World Cup RS, Kalil Sehbe, said “We want to hold the Smart World Cup.”

According to Nitin Dahad, for UK Trade & Investment, “The government has mandated that the 12 cities hosting the FIFA 2014 World Cup must have implemented 4G LTE networks by around May 2013 …with contracts awarded for infrastructure by the operators to Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent.”

Dahad continues, “…mobile penetration is high in Brazil, at almost 130%, with the use of

smartphones and tablets increasing. Combine this with the third factor, the use of social media: Facebook penetration alone is very high, with 60 million users in Brazil, representing a penetration of 30% (figures as of November 2012). Most Brazilians (around 60%) already use social media to research products before buying, so the influence of social media cannot be underestimated.”

There have already been some bumps in the road, with the Soccerex Global Convention scheduled for Rio canceled under acrimonious circumstances. Read the Soccerex press release here.

Brazil's national tourism board launched Brasil Quest, a mobile game app to familiarize visitors with the 12 World Cup host cities. Going to Brazil? Get the app as a free download for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

It will be equally interesting to see how major technology giants position themselves to access the FIFA human-media circus.

In a comprehensive report on telecommunications in Brazil, a group of authors from CPqD (Brazilian national innovation agency) noted: 

“The scale and dimension of the infrastructure demanded by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to host the 2014 World Cup games is a real challenge. The enormous influx of people coming to the host cities vastly increases the need for various basic services such as transportation, telecommunications, water distribution, sanitation, electric power distribution, financial services and health care. These systems are interdependent, and an incident in one area can have critical consequences on the others. The concept of critical infrastructure protection, used to identify the critical telecommunications services during the 2007 Pan‐American Games in Rio de Janeiro, will be vital for the 2014 World Cup.”

“During the 2014 World Cup, the most critical situation will very likely be covering the stadiums and surroundings, where there will be a very high concentration of subscribers, most of whom will be heavy service users. With some reasonable estimates for user density in the vicinity of the stadiums, the demand is expected to reach17 Mbps per cell area.”
Might we see an organization such as Google partner with tel-comm giants to create Hot-Spot Fan Pavilions near stadiums offering local communities and World Cup attendees free mobile access? It would be great to see pavilions where tech companies showcase the intersections of technology and soccer.

Too pedestrian? Maybe something along the lines of Project Loon, where engineers float soccer-styled tech-net balloons that provide temporary mobile internet access in host cities.

Some critical steps:

  • Structuring partnerships with organizers of similar events
  • Planning capacity and traffic demands
  • Planning for innovative new services
  • Partnerships between private sector and government
  • Allocating frequency spectrum
…And these are just a few of the considerations. Seriously, the telecommunication IT infrastructure concerns here are huge. The real hope here is that investment in Brazilian IT infrastructure will be long-lasting after the World Cup leaves, and that infrastructural growth will benefit the largely working class communities that inhabit the host cities. This is the “people’s game” after all.

What are some creative ways to meet the mobile access demands that are sure to come with the 2014 World Cup?

Go here for a detailed overview of telecommunications in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

A list of starter apps for Brazil 2014.

Click here for a succinct run-down of telecommunications issues for the 2014 World Cup. 

Hindås 3 June 1958. The Brazilian World Cup players Vava, Gilmar, Garrincha and Moseir playing the board game Ludo at their training grounds in Hindås.

Image Source: FIFA (By EA Sports ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Image Source: Brazilian Stamp (By Brasil Correio (Selo Postal) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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