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Tata Communications: If We Can Do It For F1, We Can Do It For Anyone

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Tata says the high pressure, global environment of F1 is the ideal showcase for its networking capabilities and will build brand outside India

Nearly four years ago, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone hailed the arrival of Tata Communications as an official partner of the sport as the most important development since satellite.

Ecclestone said satellite was good for broadcasting, but was simply not interactive enough for the modern demands of Formula One Management (FOM), which needed to provide data to teams, broadcasters and fans in real time.

“For a technologically advanced sport as F1, you would be surprised that before they came in with speeds lower than your home broadband,” Mehul Kapadia, managing director of Tata’s F1 Business told TechWeekEurope at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone earlier this year.

“For them one of the biggest challenges is to get content out in real-time, globally,” added Claude Sassoulas, managing director for Europe at Tata Communications.

Read More: How communications are turbo boosting F1 teams

Tata Network gains

Williams F1Rather than struggling with slow speeds, Tata provides a 1Gbps network that allows FOM to deliver more interactive content to its website. The rise of social media and mobile means video clips are becoming increasingly important to F1, while a 4K trial has been held as a proof of concept.

For Tata Communications, the deal was seen was an important exercise in brand awareness but also a demonstration to big businesses that its network could be trusted. The Tata Group is hugely famous in India and has acquired major brands like Tetley tea and Jaguar Land Rover, but is conscious it isn’t a household name elsewhere.

“We’re still an unknown in the US. What we thought was needed was a platform to demonstrate our capability – That we could deliver anywhere in the world,” added Kapadia. “This is truly a global sport. Except for Africa, it’s on every continent. Every year it goes to new markets, so it’s a new challenge.”

Each track provides its own challenges. Some, such as Monaco are in a city, others like Melbourne are in a park and Bahrain is in the extreme heat of the desert.

“Monaco tends to be one of the most difficult ones,” he continued. “We run our operations underground in a car park because there’s no space.

“It’s not about getting it right once. It’s getting it right every time.”

‘Extreme delivery’

Tata F1 Connectivity DatabricksTeams arrive the Friday before a race week and are operational by the Sunday – a week before the Grand Prix. The network is monitored by teams in the USA, UK and India, as well as trackside by Tata engineers located in F1’s technical centre. Indeed, such is the nomadic nature of the sport, F1 starts to dismantle the centre before the chequered flag has been raised so the equipment can be transported to the next race location.

Having such a demanding customer like FOM and the ability to set up complex networks in short spaces of time is seen as a big deal for Tata Communications, especially in emerging markets where many multi-national companies are looking to expand, in a sector with intense competition.

Tata says it shows a willingness to work under pressure and cooperate with local partners to deliver fibre.

“Formula One don’t care who we use, they just want it to work,” said Kapadia.

“This is a global showcase for us. If you can do it for Formula One, we can do it for anyone.”

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