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AT&T Joins NBC's Olympics Roster

To meet the ever-growing demand for higher-resolution video on more video screens, NBC will once again rely on AT&T for global networking services for coverage of next month's Winter Olympic Games.

This time around, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will provide a managed private networking solution connecting production centers in Sochi, Russia to NBC Universal and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) facilities across the US. In turn, NBC and Comcast will pass along the TV signals from Sochi to consumers.

According to AT&T, the bandwidth requirements for delivering Olympics TV coverage have increased by a third since the Summer Olympic Games in London a year and a half ago. In 2012, AT&T dedicated about 15 Gbit/s of capacity for video delivery through the use of 333 DS3 circuits (also known as T3 lines). This year, the telecom company will boost that amount to 20 Gbit/s, or about 444 DS3 circuits.

For further context, AT&T noted that the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney required just three DS3 circuits. What a difference 14 years makes.

AT&T will also provide custom engineering and management services to NBC, along with backup services in case of circuit failure.

In a prepared statement, Robert Kiraly, director of Broadcast and Telecommunications Operations for NBC Olympics, noted that when "people watch the Olympic Games, they increasingly do so from multiple screens -- a smartphone, tablet, computer and the traditional television screen." He said "AT&T supports the networking services we need to ensure our viewers will have the best experience possible, no matter their screen preference.”

Recently, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced that it would also participate in NBC's carnival of Olympics coverage next month. Cisco will provide cloud-based video transcoding and content management solutions for the Sochi Games. (See NBC Jumps on Cisco's Cloud.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

albreznick 1/21/2014 | 6:11:39 PM
Re: AT&T serving Comcast True, Dan. Although you never know. :) I think this is more about AT&T and NBC. Comcast just happens to own NBC now. 
DOShea 1/18/2014 | 8:54:51 PM
AT&T serving Comcast Sort of funny to read about AT&T helping Comcast, though of course this has nothing to do with broadband and pay TV fights back home. I guess global transport networks is one area the giant cable operators will never rival the giant telcos.
albreznick 1/16/2014 | 5:58:52 PM
Video traffic I'm blown away by the way that those video capacity numbers are expl;oding. Anyone want to hazard a guess on what they will look like for next summer's World Cup or the 2016 Summer Olympics?  
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