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Olympic Communications System Rates a Gold Medal.

From July 28 through August 13, much of the world's attention will focus on Los Angeles, as the fascination for the spectacle of sport pervaded the media. Athletes from 150 countries will put their months and years of practice to the severest test . . . going for the gold . . . and communications technology will show "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" to an estimated 2.5 billion people around the globe during the 16 days.

The Summer Olympic Games, or more accurately, the XXIIIrd Olympiad, will be the first truly electronic Summer Games, tapping the vast resources of modern technology, not only for the media coverage, but also for the timely reporting of event results and general information about what's happening.

There's no better place to test the electronic resources than Los Angeles--actually, it's a 4500-square-mile area of Southern California. There will be 28 sports sites (called venues), three Olympic Villages, broadcast and press centers and a number of administrative and support locations--some 60 different sites in all. Setting up the communications facilities has been an Olympic ordeal in itself. Some of the sports sites are as much as 200 miles apart, so obviously that were used during the Mexico City and Montreal Olympics to hand-deliver correspondence and official results.

Many companies are supplying equipment and services, of course, and AT&T is serving as the coordinating anchor for telecommunications. The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) charged AT&T with finding way to effectively manage and move data and voice communications for its more than 50,000-member Olympic family.

All told, it will take some 25,000 circuits to establish TV links to the outside world, including about 100 simultaneous television circuits, over 2,000 audio channels and literally thousands of private lines, special services and data links. On top of that, there are the electronic mail, mobile radio and standard voice systems . . . a far cry from the relatively minimal communications facilities required for the 1932 Olympic Games hled in Los Angeles.

Fortunately, some things never change. The Olympic Torch still is carried by runners. That's no job for electronic mail or overnight delivery. AT&T Communications is sponsoring and managing the Olympic Torch Relay. the transcontinental journey began in New York early in May and is to arrive in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 28, to signal the opening of the games. Each runner is carrying the torch 10 miles per day, in five-mile increments.

The communications systems for the event are estimated to be the largest

temporary job ever undertaken to provide communications services. Much will be removed afterward, but some will remain as a legacy to serve residents. Because permanent facilities couldn't be assured at each site, Pacific Bell and AT&T are using commercial truck trailers at a number of sites to serve as central offices on wheels.

AT&T's special system, which includes computers, terminals, printers, telephones and several-hundred miles of fiber-optic cable, actually is two systems--one an electronic messaging system (EMS) and the other a voice communications system.

The EMS is to serve as the backbone of Olympics communications and information. Terminals are being placed in all main sports, media and administration centers for the games. The system will both furnish electronic mail, event bulletin boards and forms for reserving meeting rooms and such as well as daily sports results, up-to-the-minute progress reports and profiles of an athlete's performance prior to and during the games.

Within a minute after event results are made official, they will be available for access on the terminals. Reporters, coaches and athletes can call up specifics by using menu selections, or request "TODAY'S RESULTS." An estimated 7,000 separate event files will be produced during the games--some 500 daily.

The EMS system operates with 14 AT&T 3B20s computers, more than 1700 Teletype 5410 interactive terminals and highspeed printers, and more than 100 Infotron model 792 network concentrators.

the concentrators are expected to save the LAOOC perhaps $9 million in telecommunications charges during the games, primarily by minimizing the number of required data links that connect the Teletype 5410 terminals to the 3B20s computers at AT&T's EMS data center in downtown Los Angeles. The concentrators incorporate a statistical algorithm that permits overbooking of the data links. Bell Labs has specified a conservative four-to-one overbooking ratio based on expected data traffic. This means that one 56 kb/s digital link can support up to 44 terminals operating at 4.8 kg/s data speeds.

More than 90 concentrators are spread out among the outlying Olympic facilities, with more remote sites containing at least two concentrators to increase reliabiliti. The data center has about 30 additional concentrators to unravel the data channels for the computers.

The teletype 5410 asynchronous terminals are ANSI 3.64-based devices operating in a character-at-a-time mode. Because they'll be operated primarily by people with little or no terminal experience, and by many foreign-speaking persons, they had to be designed for the easiest possible use. Each terminal has eight programmable function keys that clearly define the type of information available. Each key is dynamically programmed by the EMS system, which changes its meaning for the different applications available in the system.

Because many of the terminals will be used at outdoor arenas, they had to incorporate a high-resolution display with tilt and brightness controls. More Than 20 PBXs

The voice communications system will include some 7,000 special Olympic telephone sets and over 20 Dimension PBXs. A Dimention 2000 with 1500-line capacity was installed at LOOC headquarters early last year to support the committee's operational activities. Another Dimension 2000 is located at the International Broadcast Center in Hollywood, where ABC will coordinate coverage for all of the attending electronic media. There'll be two other Dimension 2000s, three Dimension 600s and 15 Dimension 400s.

Each site will have a PBX, console operator and an electronic messaging service center. When an intended recipient can't be reached by phone, a message will be sent via the EMS system to the terminal nearest the recipient's location.

A fiber-optic digital lightwave system has been installed by Pacific Bell, linking all elements of the communications network, including radio paging and international telex services. Also interconnecting with the fiber-optic system is a 10-Mbl/s local-area network.

Each cable in the lightwave network is about the thickness of a little finger and contains 144 individual glass fibers capable of transmitting 240,000 simultaneous conversations. To do the same job with copper cable would have required 11 cables, each 3.5 inches in diameter. Digital TV Lightwave

The lightwave network includes a series of branches linked to an existing fiber-optic system. The branches have been augmented with AT&T's Digital Television Lightwave System (DTLS). During the games, the DTLS system will transmit video and audio from the sports sites to a central earth station for satellite broadcast around the world . . . with the nearly 200 hours of live TV coverage broadcast over 16 days to an audience that is expected to total two-and-a-half-billion viewers.

Bacially, the DTLS system consists of a series of transmitters and receivers connected to the Olympic fiber-optic network. A DTLS transmitter takes analog signals from a TC camera and microphone, converts them into digital light pulses and transmits them over the fiber-optic network. A DTLS receiver then converts the signal back into analog for direct transmission from a central earth station in Los Angeles.

The Bell Labs-developed DTLS transmits one black-and-white or color TV signal, and two 15-kHz audio signals over a 90-Mb/s lightwave system. Each signal is sampled more than 10.7 million times per second, and each sample is given a nine-bit value between zero and 511, turning the picture into a series of digits. This digitized picture is then compressed to an average of eight bits per sample. Audio is sampled at 32-kHz, and each sample is encoded into a 14-bit binary number. The sounds is then compressed to an average of 11 bits per sample and one bit is added for concealing errors and automatically.

This sound and picture combination is then multiplexed and converted into light pulses by a regenerator. At the other end, the signals are restored to their original form.

For journalists and other members of the Olympic community, game results of the more than 200 events can be accessed from any terminal. Records for each sport and other fast-breaking information will also be available via the terminals. Multi-System Interface

The EMS system interfaces with an IBM computer in Long Beach that will transmit event results, a Motorola computer that operates a radio-paging system, a Wester Union International telex system, an IBM System 38 computer ferrying Olympic committee registration data and an Olympic security network.

Radio paging is provided through the EMS by access to a microwave paging system and, if the pager has a screen, it will display a message of up to 40 characters.

As a messaging service, the system permits members of the official Olympic family to send person-to-person electronic mail, with messages stored in the computer until retrieved by the recipient.

Two-way radios and radio pagers obviously will play a key role in the highly mobile world of the Summer Games. Motorola's Communications Sector is the official radio communications sponsor, and is providing its Metro-Page 200 radio-paging exchange to provide alphanumeric text display paging and tone paging for the LAOOC, officials and participants.

Connected to the electronic messaging system, text communication goes to one or all of the 2,000 OPTRX alphanumeric display pagers. Messages, stored in the pagers, can be re-read as often as needed. In this system, 8,000 tone-alert pagers will also be served by the same terminal.

Motorola is also providing two mobile repeater vans. Each van can be set up to begin transmitting and receiving over four frequencies in about a half hour. A 37-foot mast on each vehicle can be raised quickly for fast on-the-air operation.

The primary use of the one-ton, self-contained vans will be for one-day event sites, including the men's and women's road cycling, team road racing, equestrian endurance, equestrian village, men's and women's marathons, 20K and 50K race walks, as well as for the opening and closing ceremonies at the coliseum. Recharge While Moving

The vans will literally follow each event. At the conclusion of one competition, portable Handie-Talkie two-way radios used by event personnel will be returned to the vans, where they will be recharged while the vehicles are moving on to the next site on the schedule.

In addition to gasoline-powered generators for recharging batteries and providing radio transmission power, the vans will include an array of test equipment to ensure optimum efficiency of the repeater-transmitters, as well as the portable radios.

Among the other 10,000 pieces of communications hardware being furnished by Motorola are the ballpoint-pen-sized Sensar pager, radiotelephones (including cellular phones), telemetry devices, base stations and other related supplies.

On-site sound systems will also be in abundance, provided by Panasonic/Ramsa. Each location had to be visited by a project team to assess the varying acoustic requirements. One of the more-elaborate sound systems will be in the LA Coliseum, where the Ramsa WR-8616 audio mixing console will be the nerve center for 33 power amplifiers, each 400 watts, feeding an array of speakers, horns and drivers.

Among the audio equipment being supplied for the games are audio mixing consoles, 215 power amplifiers, an assortment of 900 speakers, 250 microphones, plus accessories such as equalizers, turntables, reel and cassette tape recorders and special-effects equipment. The sound systems installed at the Coliseum and East Los Angeles College will be permanent systems, remaining in place after the games; the other sites will use temporary systems. Teletext Project

Teletext will also maintain a high visibility at the Olympics. An "electronic newspaper" will be created under a joint venture between Ameritext and KTTV, Channel 11 Metromedia Television in Los Angeles. The "Merotext" project will provide equipment for public veiwing at more than 250 locations throughout Southern California. Both Zenith and Sanyo are supplying receiving equipment, and Greendale Electronics of England is supplying 100 decoders that can be connected to any TV set.

In cooperation with Taft Broadcasting, the BBV and Keycom (Keyfax National Teletext Service), KTTV will broadcast a 120-page news and information magazine on the Olympics. Metrotext will contain current sports results, highway traffic around the sites, weather and other guest and visitor information. It will also carry local, national and international news and sports, business news and features.

One of the newest companies involved in providing communications facilities for the Summer Olympics is a Vancouver firm that recently established a Huntington Beach, California-based subsidiaru, American Microlink. It operates microwave interconnect and production services for satellite carriers, broadcasters, teleconferencing companies and corporations.

The company has developed four-wheel-drive trucks (called transrestrial mobile vehicles, or TMVs) that are equipped with remote-controlled steerable antennas, and can be operated by as few as one technician.

It's already lined up contracts worth about $400,000 for both the Summer Olympics and the Democratic National Convention (also see boxed item on this page concerning the convention's communications requiremnents).

American Microlink is now in the process of establishing a permanent repeater network to cover the metropolitan Los Angeles area, enabling its fleet of mobile vehicles to more easily access the network and align with the satellite carrier uplinks.

For the "outside world"--many of those outside the LA Basin and particularly those in foreign countries--the key communications vehicle will be satellites. Intelsat has more than 7,000 hours of worldwide transmission booked for the games.

It was Intelsat that helped change the world's viewing habits, beginning two decades ago--flashing its message of "live via satellite" into homes around the globe. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary year, Intelsat consists of 108 member nations and provide communications to 170 user countries. It's made the live television transmission of news and sports events a commonplace event for literally billions of people. An Olympian Task

The television coverage will, of course, be the most visible communications medium to the armchair sports enthusiasts. ABC will be spending upwards of $100 million just to produce the coverage of the spectacle, using about 2500 crew people wielding equipment in just about every imaginable form of transportation to keep up with the action--from cars, trucks and vans to motorcycle, planes and helicopters. They use more than 30 mobile units and over 200 portable and studio cameras. And they'll use a variety of transmission media, including fiber optics, microwave and satellites.

The communications suppliers and the people who have installed it and who will operate it have been going for the "gold" for many months, and definitely are tops in their field.

Pushing for excellence during the weeks and months of preparation . . . just as the athletes who will compete in the events . . . the personnel responsible for the telecommunications and information needs of the Olympics have faced many challenges to be ready for the end of July. But persistence and ingenuity have prevailed, and telecommunications will indeed be one of the major events of the Summer Games in Los Angeles.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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