Canadian firm helps monitor World Cup network

Canada doesn’t have a team in this year’s World Cup., but there’s Canadian network technology helping ensure the video, voice and data traffic from Brazil is clear.

Gigabit Ethernet demarcation points and performance test probes from Montreal’s Accedian Networks are being used at the 12 stadium sites, broadcast centres and airports to make sure the huge volume of traffic doesn’t overwhelm the official carrier’s local fibre optic networks.

The probes send out test packets at regular intervals – as fast as every 100 milliseconds – that can analyze network quality of service to find possible areas of high packet loss or latency, Scott Sumner, the company’s vice-president of solutions marketing, said in an interview.

“The reflectors that we have, which are basically small modules that plug into the ports of a switch or a router at any site, are using NFV (network functions virtualization) based technology to analyze and orchestrate the tests between the locations,” he added.

There’s also test equipment at main network hand off points, such as a trans-Atlantic submarine cable transfer point, where traffic is segmented.

The equipment was chosen by Brazilian telecom consultancy HTCom, an Accedian reseller, which was contracted to plan and optimize the carrier network for the competition. It took less than a week to install the company’s equipment, which is essentially plug and play and configures itself.

“We have a staff of three people down there monitoring the measurements coming in, and work with the guys at HTCom, who assist in running the network,” Sumner said. One of them was Jean-Francois Vanier,  a senior network specialist who was back in Montreal this week.

“There’s not a whole lot of equipment involved,” Vanier said, for monitoring the 13 links. A server is used as the main controller for the 26 Metro NID-TE demarcation devices being used. But his team had to certify each circuit for acceptable packet loss, delay and throughput before the games started. There was only minor packet loss and some throughput issues that had to be addressed, Vanier said. Other problems, however, still have to be resolved and the games go on.

Every day his team forwards a report on the circuits to the carrier.

The biggest problem so far has been high network congestion, Sumner said, when tens of thousands of people in a stadium start texting and sending images from smart phones during a game. Sumner uses words like “dynamic” and “bursty” to describe the traffic. Carriers can compensate by turning down the QoS for voice and data traffic, giving priority to broadcasters.

Privately-held Accedian was founded in 2004, and says it has 350 customers around the world including Telus, Wind Mobile, Verizon, Telia Sonera, and China Unicom.

Its main products are the MetroNID demarcation points, MetroNODE carrier Ethernet aggregation points, V-NID actuators, and the Vision management platform.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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