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Telecommunications also won the Qatar 2022 World Cup

Telecommunications also won the Qatar 2022 World Cup

In Qatar, the telecom operators under the supervision of the various public authorities and particularly that of regulation, spared no effort to satisfy fully the various professionals and visitors during the World Cup.

By Ahmed khouja

From the beginning and just after Qatar was invited to host the World Cup, the telecom operator Ooredoo was designated as the official operator for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. After that, Ooredoo began to coordinate with the other operators. This latter has mobilized a whole team to work on the World Cup support project, while getting inspired from experiences of countries that previously organized a World Cup.

Several project teams were created around the several expectations of the World Cup. The various budgets set with one watchword: no unnecessary delays. Imperfections could happen and be forgiven but the experience must be sucessful in the end because the ultimaate objective is a great organization and a smooth running of the World Cup event.

Investments in telecoms required less than five billion dollars, so much less compared to other projects such as the construction of stadiums, ans this is due to the fact that Qatar was already ahead in telecommunications.

For example, the country had already launched 5G as early as 2019 and it was well strengthened by several submarine cables. Regarding 5G, it should be noted that gigabit speeds have been provided by operators to participants and spectators of the world football event. According to global network intelligence firm Ookla, Qatar was ranked fifth in the world for 5G availability at the end of 2021. This indicator measures the percentage of users with 5G-enabled devices who spend most of their time on its 5G network. In the same year, Doha was ranked sixth in the world for average 5G speeds, recording 382.51 Mbps. Overall, the telecom projects went well and the right signal of a proper management and readiness of the telecom networks for this major event was shown by the success of the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which took place on November 20, 2022 at the “Al Bayt” stadium, in the presence of more than 60,000 spectators and several million viewers through TV screens.

Once the event started, Ooredoo mobilized a whole team of experts and technicians in the field to monitor the performance of the networks from the start of the opening ceremony until the last whistle of the final of the France -Argentina match. The objective was to provide the best services to supporters and various professionals.

Ooredoo’s Service Operations Center was ready thanks to the availability of more than 100 executives, the presence of operational staff in stadiums and surroundings, and the latest innovative solutions to instantly monitor network performance and to ensure the best customer experience.

Ooredoo, in partnership with its various Roaming partners and thanks to LTE, 5G and advanced fiber optic networks, ensured the provision of high-end and ultra-fast telecommunications services, as well as superior voice calls, allowing the visitors to benefit from a very advanced experience. These telecommunications services have extended beyond the stadium as well, allowing the public and supporters to share their experience with the world.

The mobile technology was deployed on 8,466 multibeam antennas across all relevant stadiums, covering over 310 miles of RF connector. The stadium boundaries were covered by 41 DAS Smart Pole solutions and more than 45 outdoor macro tower locations. It is a mobile network which consisted also of over 5,000 cells, TETRA services and a Wi-Fi backbone which multiple digital technologies for football fans in attendance.

Figures showed that the Ooredoo Qatar network hosted more than 1.5 million users who enjoyed Roaming services during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The data traffic recorded a great continuous growth and which was used by the public and the supporters to communicate and share pictures and videos with their families and friends. The number of voice calls during the same period was over one million, with an efficiency rate of 99.8%. While the call loss rate through the LTE network did not exceed 0.12%. 5G speeds exceeded 2Gbps at one point. In addition, Ooredoo has provided its services to customers from more than 500 partner networks around the world, of which more than 90 networks took advantage of Ooredoo’s super-fast 5G services, providing them with an advanced and exceptional telecommunication experience.

Meanwhile, roaming traffic recorded a significant increase over the period, ranging between 140% and 269%. Note that the most used applications during the event were Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp.

By using data from Speedtest Intelligence to analyze the network performance of national operators in Qatar World Cup stadiums, it was found that Al Janoub Stadium had the fastest average 5G download performance at 757.77 Mbps, while all World Cup stadiums have 400 Mbps. Among the most popular fan sites, Ras Bufontas and Airport Free Zone had the best 5G performance.

It should also be noted that sports fans visiting Qatar for the World Cup gladly took advantage of SIM cards which included free data from national mobile operators. For instance, according to Ookla, a national operator offered SIM cards containing 2022 MB of data for free, with a three days validity, while another national operator gave access to 3 GB of data for free, valid for two days. Encouraging visitors to use local SIM cards helped telecom providers to offer superior network performance for fans during the World Cup.

On the Moroccan side, a total of some 80,000 Moroccans traveled to attend the various matches of the Moroccan team. The three Moroccan telecom operators worked with Qatari telecom operators to allow them to have good roaming services at various times during the World Cup. Each of these Moroccan telecom operators launched specific offers studied in relation to the needs of supporters of the Moroccan team, in order to maintain contact with their loved ones and with their businesses.

In addition to the nine submarine cables that land on the Qatari coast, Qatari operators have also used transit via several countries including Iraq, KSA and UAE to reach the Cables that do not arrive in Qatar.

In addition, they used AMEER a system built by DU (UAE), ITC (KSA), Jordan Telecom, Paltel (Palestine) and TTI (Turkey). The major international telecom players in the world have also been mobilized to guarantee links and for reinforced security, for maintenance and for emergency interventions. As a reminder, 450 submarine fiber optic cables, installed in the bottoms of seas across the world, carry 99% of voice and internet traffic at the international level!

Submarine cables are more important supports for conversational networks such as those of mobiles given their quality in term of latency. On the other hand, satellites have played a very important role in so-called over the world. Latency at submarine cables level is better than at satellites. But beware! the small lag often observed during matches between images on our screens is not due to this difference in latency. Usually, this small shift comes from the compression techniques used by the channels. A given channel will ensure the compression and encoding of the video signal. The higher the quality of the image, such as 4K, the longer this step takes and the longest the lag on the screens we are looking at.

Regarding broadcasts of matches via the various networks, we note that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar reached almost 5 billion people all over the planet. Recall that thirty-two qualified nations competed in a chapionship that mobilized the entire technology, media and telecommunications sector. Broadcast, cable, mobile and satellite systems transmitted live video, voice and data to all countries, allowing television and media groups to curate content that attracts global advertising brands. HDR, 4K, 8K and virtual reality video technologies will enhance the viewer experience. Note that new technological innovations were used for the first time.

FIFA said at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup that it had achieved record revenues of US$7.5 billion during the four years of commercial deals related to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, announced Sunday, December 18, 2022 the governing body of FIFA. That $7.5 billion, exceeded all previous tournaments and constitutes almost five times the figure seen in Korea and Japan in 2002. Given this success of Qatar which has set really high standards, I wish good luck to the next host country!

In conclusion, we can simply say that the 2022 World Cup made history. On the telecom infrastructure side, we can only pay a vibrant tribute to all those who participated in the success of this great sporting event. Many Thanks to all the operators, to all the regulators, to all the manufacturers, and to all the executives and engineers for the humble efforts they have deployed during the period of preparation and through the World Cup. This event was a great laboratory for new telecom technologies: 5G, artificial intelligence, drones, etc.

Lastly, on the occasion of this great international event, may I end this article dear reader, with a verse from the Quran encouraging positive globalization:
“O men! We created you all from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The most noble among you, with God, is the most pious. God is certainly Omniscient and Great-Knower.

AHMED KHAOUJA DIRECTOR OF WWW.PTT.MA

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