UEFA EURO 2016: for your eyes only
One month of intense passion for the 150 million viewers who will watch the matches live and the 2.5 million supporters expected in the stadiums. And for Orange, four years of work so that everyone can enjoy this! Discover what preparations are involved with a major media and sports event like the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament.
Every tenth of a second counts
Watching the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament with family or friends, on TV or in the stadium...Lots of fun for spectators, but a major technical challenge behind the scenes to guarantee the best broadcasting conditions.
With live events like this, there is no margin for error: a one tenth of a second delay or interruption would be perceived immediately and result in millions of unhappy people!
To make these conditions possible, a whole infrastructure needs to be designed and installed specially for the event, cabling the stadiums and ensuring that images can be broadcast by the 240 television channels that have purchased the rights.
UEFA EURO 2016 everywhere: taking the spectator experience to new heights
Euro 2016 is an opportunity for Orange to continue pushing boundaries with the quality of the spectator experience:
- A stronger 4G mobile network deployed in each stadium to support the major concentration of users who will want to communicate and share photos on social media,
- Broadcasting images to giant screens in the fan zones set up in the major cities hosting the competition,
- A groundbreaking technical achievement: broadcasting eight matches live in Ultra High Definition.
80,000 km of cables and one Broadcast Center
Patrice Roussel is Head of Euro 2016 for Orange. He has been working since 2012 to lead the vast project to design and deploy the network infrastructure.
The competition's 10 stadiums need to be cabled: copper wire connections for voice for TV commentators or radio journalists, fiber for broadcasting images and photos, as well as wifi for internet connections for journalists and VIPs throughout the stadiums
Each stadium also needs to be connected to the International Broadcast Center: the "central hub" where images from the matches produced by UEFA will be received and redistributed to the 240 television channels that are broadcasting the event.
"UEFA will film and produce images for all the matches", explains Patrice Roussel. "Orange will be responsible for transporting the images from each stadium to the International Broadcast Center, where the television channels that have purchased the rights will retrieve them and add their logo, their live commentaries by their journalists or other adaptations before broadcasting them".
A giant with quick feet
In total, more than 80,000 km of cabling needs to be put in place, enough to go around the world twice! "To guarantee this level of reliability, it was not an option to use a pooled infrastructure, used by other customers", notes Patrice Roussel. "We have rebuilt a dedicated infrastructure, which will also be used differently, operated differently. Orange is making full use of its expertise and know-how".
Four years: that is how long it took to draw up the detailed contract with UEFA and design the infrastructure. But in reality, Orange's teams will have just two weeks before the first matches to access the stadiums and get everything installed! Another feature of this challenge.
"Everything has been prepared offsite, in advance: the infrastructure for each stadium has been put together, each piece of equipment has been tested and configured, all at Orange premises. Then labeled with an NFC chip before being dismantled, so that everything can be traced on delivery, thanks to a specially developed application, and easily reassembled in the stadium", confirms Patrice Roussel.
Ready for kick-off
By the end of 2015, all the preparations and the infrastructure connecting the stadiums had been completed. The 4G mobile upgrade is in place; all that is left now is to "turn on" (i.e. commission) the equipment and masts.
At the start of April 2016, the International Broadcast Center still needs to be built and schedules prepared for the Orange teams who will be deployed in the stadiums.
"800 employees will be involved during the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament. They are all enthusiastic volunteers, motivated by the challenge, fully committed, even at weekends and evenings. They are proud to be part of a project on an international scale like this, which is supporting the image of Orange and France, and which the satisfaction of billions of TV viewers is dependent on!", concludes Patrice Roussel.
The challenge will continue after the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament has ended: Orange's teams will have just four days to dismantle the image broadcasting infrastructures. The mobile network upgrades in the stadiums will remain in place and continue to benefit supporters!
UEFA EURO 2016: the challenge in figures
- 10 stadiums to be connected in France
- 1 International Broadcast Center to be built to supply images for 240 international TV channels
- 80,000 km of cables to be laid, enough to go around the world twice
- 150 million TV viewers for each live match
- 2.5 million supporters expected in the stadiums, of which 1.5 million are foreign visitors
- 15 days to install 90 pallets of equipment in the stadiums
- 4 days to dismantle everything