Picture the scene: 9pm on a warm British summer’s evening in Stratford and it’s the men’s 100m final in the Olympic stadium – the show piece event of the entire games. Your seat is prime Olympic real estate just at the edge of the track, ten rows back. You’re armed with a GB&I flag, vuvuzela and iPhone; tweet primed and ready to go with a picture of the runners as they take to the blocks.
But just as you want to share the picture with the 436 people following you on Twitter, you realise you no longer have internet connectivity or even a phone signal; networks unavailable reads the screen. Frustrating right?
According to BT, the network capacity at London 2012 will be four times that of the Beijing Games, with millions of people expected to flock to London during the Olympics, armed with smartphones and tablets to stream live content; call and text family and friends; share photos and videos, or just watch the events online.
As a result, this year’s Olympics is set to be the most data-heavy yet with a 60Gb requirement across the network in the Olympic Park alone – this equates to 3,000 photographs, travelling across the network in Stratford every second. Not surprisingly this is going to put a huge strain on the UK’s mobile phone and Internet networks.
BT is delivering a single communications network across 94 locations, including 34 competition venues. Its aim: to protect its customer experience during the Games. But since it does not have a mobile network, inside the Olympic Park it has partnered with Telefonica, operating in the UK under the name O2, and other mobile network providers, to create the Joint Operators Olympic Group (Joog). In addition to this it is also establishing more than half a million additional hot spots – mostly in the centre of the city – which should make life easier for visitors from abroad, keen to save on roaming charges.
But there is always a possibility that something, somewhere, could go wrong – recognise O2 from any news recently? Only this week the mobile operator experienced some major down time due to a glitch with one of its new Huawei network systems; resulting in around 25 hours of 2G and 3G signal downtime for its subscribers.
Being the eternal optimist I have high hopes for the London Olympics at the end of the month but if the world is going to enjoy the greatest show on Earth to the max, through their Smartphones, tablets and laptops, ISPs and telecoms providers must be watchful and prepare for the worst – after all, by failing to prepare, you are in essence preparing to fail.
We’ve got two weeks and counting… So double-time please Joog!