We are now in the final week of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It's been an exciting tournament, despite England's early exit, with many edge-of-your-seat games, particularly once the group stages were over. Who would have thought the USA would have nearly beaten Belgium or, Costa Rica Germany, or that Brazil-Chile would go to penalties?
And it still isn't over. Nearly one billion viewers worldwide are predicted to watch Sunday's final with the social media sphere expected to see a massive spike during and immediately after the match. Technology, and our adoption of it, has certainly been a key player in making this tournament such a success.
Besides the Brazilian home fans, around 600,000 spectators have attended this World Cup, all armed with, on average, three connected devices each, which they have been using to continually text, tweet and share via social media. For example, while there have been no vuvuzelas at this tournament, we have certainly had plenty of "selfies". In fact this is the first World Cup to see widespread "selfies" uploaded to social media from stadia, during matches. The recent Winter Olympics in Sochi generated more than 2.2million tweets in just five days; it looks like the number will be considerably higher by the end of this tournament. All these tweets and posts are travelling over communication networks from the stadia to other fans, friends and family members around the world.
We shouldn't forget either, that thousands of players and managers, support teams, volunteers, members of the media and officials have also been using the World Cup network for FIFA communication.
Consequently demands for bandwidth and connectivity at the World Cup, from both officials and players, as well as from fans, have been sky-high. Wireless adoption has had an enormous impact on the competition's communication network. With Wi-Fi now our preferred choice for connectivity, final tournament reporting should show that for the first time ever, wireless network traffic has far exceeded fixed network traffic.
However, the tournament's communication network has also had to be extremely secure as it is also carrying official scores, images and other information. In fact many FIFA officials' and volunteers' jobs are heavily reliant on the fast, secure and reliable tournament network.
With the final - the most watched sports match in the world - just a few days away, organisers will be keen to ensure that the network is performing optimally. For the Sochi Winter Olympics our preparation included a great deal of network testing. We also deployed a new technology that simplified network management, making it easier to find potential weak spots and error and reducing potential downtime should there have been a network problem.
Communication networks have a massive role to play in the overall success of the final on Sunday. Not only will spectators at the match rely on them social media access, fans watching around the world will watch images sent over them and listen to commentators who are using data sent over the networks. If they don't become overloaded or fail, technology will certainly get my vote for player of the tournament.