Broadband outage at the Games? Maybe, maybe not!

posted on July 19, 2012

In February of this year, the Government released a document entitled ‘Preparing your Business for the Games.’ In it, the Cabinet Office predicted that between July 27th and August 12th, “…it is possible that Internet services may be slower” and that: “There may be drop-outs due to an increased number of people accessing the Internet. In addition, service providers may introduce data caps during peak times.” However, with less than a month to go before the Games begin, the Cabinet Office has retracted its original statement.

Overall Internet situation changing

A Government spokesman has said that: “The situation has moved on considerably since the advice for businesses was released. We do not now believe that there is likely to be any impact on the UK Internet infrastructure during the Games.” However, some advice still stands, such as asking businesses to speak to their Internet providers about the capacity within their buildings. If, for example, “a significant number of employees were to watch the live streaming of an event, it could significantly slow a company’s network speed if there is not enough network capacity available.” (See story on the BBC website.)

British Telecom (BT) has been at the forefront of the changes, and along with other ISPs has made significant preparations for the predicted surge in demand on bandwidth. A spokesman for BT said that they had carried out a huge amount of capacity planning work, which has: “…included reviewing and learning from events like the World Cup, Royal Wedding and the American Super Bowl. As a result, we’ve built a capacity model for our core broadband networks and we’ve brought forward investment and capacity increases to meet the anticipated extra demand.” In addition, more than 475,000 Wi-Fi hotspots have been added in and around Greater London. Alternative technology like satellite broadband will also offer fail-safes and backups for existing and overloaded connections at temporary venues.

Hurdles for the Future

While the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has applauded the Government’s moves, it has also suggested that they do not go far enough. John Walker, the FSB’s National Chairman, says that while he is glad that small businesses dependent on the Internet are protected during the Games, “a recent survey of more than 3,000 members shows that 48% of businesses in urban areas are dissatisfied with their broadband speed, rising to 63% for those in the countryside. So, whilst a problem regarding the Games may have been dealt with, for an effective economic recovery we still need to see faster roll-out of super-fast broadband throughout the country – especially in rural areas.”

Mobile phone networks are also expected to take a pounding, with an estimated 60 Gigabytes of data travelling across the event’s park every second in the form of photos, texts and calls. As BT no longer has a mobile network, it’s joined forces with O2 and other network providers to form the Joint Operators Olympic Group. Derek McManus of O2 said that the mobile industry has “been planning for over two years and O2 alone has invested £50,000,000 in London 2012 – increasing capacity on the current network and building new temporary sites across the country.”

While it seems that those in charge feel that they have all bases covered, recent news in the press over significant errors made in pre-event planning on the security side highlight the scale of this task.

Despite the assurances of the network operators we feel there is a strong likelihood of interruptions and slow downs at peak times particularly on the cellular mobile networks.

Our advice to anyone trying to access the Internet or the mobile network during peak demand periods is to expect a possible slow-down in service provision, and consider looking at an alternative broadband connection that’s independent of the main UK broadband network.

Tooway satellite broadband from (formerly ToowayDirect) offers an excellent fail-over or additional capacity fast broadband option for sites or venues where extra broadband resource is needed as doesn’t use or rely on any of the UK infrastructure. You can buy or rent Tooway from us today.

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