Indian telecommunications company Tata Communications has announced a multi-year technology partnership with Formula One Management, in a move that will see all of Formula One's race locations connected the the Tata Global Network.
Tata's Global Network is a Tier-1 IP network made up of over 200,000km of terrestrial and submarine cables, with a data transfer rate of one terabit per second. As well as providing fixed line connectivity to 20 different race locations, Tata will also provide hosting and content delivery services for the Formula1.com website, allowing fans to access live commentary, race data and race edits.
The Global Network is supported by secure MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) connectivity, which protects the whole network against downtime and provides reliable and flexible connectivity for trackside operations, according to Tata Communications.
“Formula 1 requires fast and secure connectivity, because even a split second of downtime can have huge repercussions for its business, brand and reputation,” said Vinod Kumar, managing director and CEO of Tata Communications. “The network, hosting and security requirements are at a level that any of our customers – whether they be in banking, logistics or shipping – will aspire to.”
The Formula1.com website, along with some of Formula One’s critical infrastructure, will be hosted in two of Tata Communications' data centres in the UK. The company claims its infrastructure can scale up to cope with traffic spikes, ensuring 24/7 uptime, even on race days when the site can get up to seven million visitors.
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Group, admitted that the company had been slow to embrace digital communications.
“We've been a little bit asleep with this type of communications. So when we started to think we ought to wake up, we looked into the market to see who could provide the services that we need. We chose Tata Communications because, of all the people we researched, it gave us exactly what we wanted. Our deal is nothing to do with sponsorship. We were offered a service that we needed.”
However, the organisation was cagey about what the new communications network will actually be used for. Formula One's broadcast boss Eddie Baker said the main priority was to get all the locations wired up.
“We're looking at ten times more connectivity than we've ever had before. So it's not really about replacing services, it's about opening a door to the future,” Baker told Techworld. “We're going to be doing the same things that we've been doing, but we have the capacity to do an incredible amount more.
“All the data processing, time keeping, provision of certain feeds, packaging those up as programmes – we have been actively trying to find an appropriate solution to be able to remote some of this stuff since the mid-90s, and that is how long this has taken to become a reality,” Baker added.
“I genuinely believe this fixed line connectivity is as important a step forward technologically as the satellite was to live television.”
The duration and financial details of the deal were not disclosed, with Ecclestone remarking that “a gentleman never speaks of last night or money,” but Kumar assured the press that “a lot of money” was involved, and said that he expected the partnership to be long-term.