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2012 Olympic Games - U.K.'s Internet Infrastructure May Be in Trouble

March 21, 2012


With the 2012 Olympics being the first games to take place in the U.K. since 1948, experts are concerned with how well the nation’s Internet infrastructure will hold up. When put into perspective, the Internet is a fairly new technology – the past five years alone have shown substantial growth.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook (News - Alert) are some of the most frequently used services on the Web, constantly being updated by millions around the world at all hours of the day. That’s what has been raising some eyebrows lately; the potential for an overload is astronomical with people simultaneously tweeting every key point of the games from their smartphones.

Chief executive of the British Olympic Association Andy Hunt has even gone as far as to say that the 2012 Olympics will be the “Twitter (News - Alert) Games,” which could absolutely be true. Twitter is right behind Facebook in the way of popularity, with an active user base of just over 100 million.

Sure, every single member of the social network obviously won’t be tweeting about the games, but even the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium that will be populated by tens of thousands of smartphone users will significantly add to the potential Internet traffic jam. And that’s not even taking into account the nearly one billion active users that Facebook boasts.

The BBC is expected to generate around a terabit of traffic per second between its three main channels, as well as the 24 locations that will be streaming live footage. ISPA council member James Blessing estimates, “it’s between five and 10 times their normal output.”

All pessimism aside though, officials have said there is no need to enforce data limits for Londoners. “Hopefully no one will notice a thing… We win if no one notices anything,” said Blessing.

London’s BT Group (News - Alert) PLC has been preparing for the event – putting forth some 2.5 billion pounds ($4 billion) in an investment upgrade program. Thousands of miles of fiber optic cable have been set in place to fall back on in case an overload does occur.

It all depends on whether or not something out of the ordinary happens. If some kind of freak accident or natural disaster were to occur for example, the nation’s Internet infrastructure just might be in trouble.

Edited by Jennifer Russell