¦ Question: How does a complex operation touring abroad keep in contact with its base in the
Reliable communications with headquarters is important for all business travellers these days, but for Formula 1 racing teams competing abroad it can affect the whole outcome of a race.
The huge team of drivers, engineers,logistics specialists and other staff need to be in constant communication in the run up to every F1 event, coordinating the million and one details required to get the show on the road. In the run-up to the race, engineers will be sending and receiving gigabytes of data.
It is a communications manager's worst nightmare.
Complex requirements Caterham F1 Team, one of the most exiting new entrants to the top tier of motorsport, needed to set up a mobile phone network that would be capable of handling the enormous demands placed on it at the F1 circuits round the world.
"Communication is incredibly important for our team, as it is for all the teams in Formula 1," says Graham Watson, team manager at Caterham F1 Team. "We have to react and deal with problems so much faster than ever before, so having a clear line of communication is vital."
Caterham F1 Team needed both voice and data to ensure everyone had the tools they needed to finish the job in the very short timescales available in the run-up to an F1 race.
One of the main challenges was finding a system that would operate seamlessly and without major set-up costs at any F1 circuit in the world. Although mobile network operators exist that cover much of the globe, in reality they operate as a number of separate national networks and global roaming is almost impossible to achieve.
Finding solutions The answer was to go with an international virtual mobile network operator (MVNO), which provides global coverage by a network of agreements with local networks.
With a system provided by an international MVNO, in this case
Even the need for training was minimal as the phones work exactly as they do at home.
The MVNO network also offers local phone numbers on the same SIM card, so local contractors can get in contact easily, quickly and without incurring international call rates. And, of course, it makes it easier for members of the team to ring each other even if they are only on the other side of the track.
The massive amounts of data generated in the super-hightech engine control and monitoring systems of the latest cars can also be sent quickly back to headquarters in Leafield for analysis, and the equally massive software updates that result can be just as quickly sent out for downloading to the cars.
Data is even needed as a race progresses,a time when every moment counts and downtime is not an option.Tom Webb,head of communications, explains: "We operate on a global level with a need to communicate effectively wherever we are in the world, at any time of the day or night.We have to send huge amounts of data back to our HQ in the
Despite its image as the sport of the super-rich, Formula 1 is just as cost-sensitive as any other business, and is on track for savings of about 30 per cent on its mobile communications bill by adopting the international MVNO approach.
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