BT ‘Obvious Choice’ For FA National Football Centre Partnership


BT points to its track record after providing communications infrastructure to St George’s Park

BT says it was the “obvious choice” to be the official communications service partner at the Football Association (FA)’s national football centre at St George’s Park.

The telecommunications company is responsible for all the technological infrastructure at the £110 million, 330-acre facility near Burton-on-Trent, and claims its track record and the types of technology it was able to offer meant that it was the ideal candidate for the FA.

“There aren’t many organisations that have the reach that we have and can enable a site as remote as this,” Neil Pemberton, CEO of BT iNet, told TechWeekEurope. “When you embark on a big project like this, working with a partner that has stability and a great track record of being able to deliver projects like this is important.”

National football centre infrastructure

St Georges Park 15BT performed a similar role for the London 2012 Olympic Games last summer and Pemberton says there isn’t too much difference between the two events in that they are both technology-rich environments where getting it right first time is of primary importance, as is deploying infrastructures that can cope with a crisis.

At St George’s Park, BT has installed a campus-wide LAN covering the FA’s facilities and the on-site Hilton hotel, as well as wireless Internet coverage for internal and public use. This includes pitch-side wireless access points that allow coaches to record and analyse training sessions to review later in the changing rooms.

BT has also provided video conferencing facilities, ISDN lines with 30 channels and even the alarm and CCTV systems, backed up by a data centre to provide additional capacity. All this means data can be shared securely across the network and that St George’s Park is connected with FA headquarters at Wembley Stadium.

Planning process

The company worked closely with Perform, who run the sports science facility, to fulfil their needs, but created two networks for Hilton, which has its own existing systems and specific requirements.

Pemberton says BT has been involved with the project for two and a half years and has been working on site for nearly 15 months. It will have an ongoing role at St George’s Park to keep the technology up date

St Georges Park 8“We started off by listening to what they want to achieve now and in the future,” he explained, but said there had to be compromises if the technology was not available. “The technology might be 90 percent there and we have to find some common ground.”

“The great thing about technology is that it’s always changing,” he added. “What’s here today will no doubt evolve over the coming years. What’s important for BT is putting in that base layer that’s future proof going forward.”

BT Reputation

As a marquee project, BT was keen to get things right, but Pemberton stressed that this was true for all of its millions of customers. He added that although the project was unique in terms of the customer, from a technological standpoint, it was not that different to what it has done before.

“It is unique because of who the FA are and the environment in which they work,” he said. “The technology is being used differently to how a bank, a university or a retailer would use it, but 60-70 percent of it is similar to what you’d find in those environments. It’s the bespoke 20-30 percent on top that makes it unique to the FA.”

“I’m not sure there is a massive difference to the Olympics to be honest with you.”

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FA St George's Park

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St George's Park

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