"There is the potential for a massive hit on the infrastructure."
Scary words from James Blessing of Britain's Internet Service Providers Association in regards to the impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the United Kingdom's Internet infrastructure. I can imagine all those fans, newspeople and athletes Tweeting, Facebooking, emailing and watching events on their phones, computers, Ipads and other devices. The combination of all those users doing things on the network, along with the massive demand for video streams and broadcasts of events will probably cause a lot of slow connections for people. At the worst, I think there is also the possibility for a system overload or crash if the traffic gets too severe.
I think the increase in traffic has the potential to cause a lot of problems, mainly slowdowns for everyone else on those same networks. Also, due to the structure of the Internet, the problems can affect people on all company's networks, not just those of a single provider. According to Fox News, a spokesman for British telecom Vodafone characterized the web traffic situation as: "it's going to be the equivalent of England playing in the World Cup final on Christmas Day, every day for the 17 days of the games." Providers have apparently already warned of possible slowdowns and even interruptions, and there is a chance they will "data ration" which means cutting some users off (regular consumers) while others (big companies) are allowed to use the bandwidth.
One of the chief culprits to the potential overload will be the BBC and it's a technology problem we've seen before. The ability to stream and capture all the different angles and locations through multiple and mini cameras has exceeded the capability of the network that was created to carry it.
The Beeb will provide live coverage .from 24 streams, along with their three channels of edited, finished content and I'm sure they could have 100 streams or even 1000 streams, if the network could handle it. That way, viewers could watch a single event, or a single venue, or even follow a single athlete through all their events. I think this is the future of sports television and as we see the Apple TV and more integration between the Internet and television, I'm confident this type of personalized content will be become more and more popular (and common).
The BBC is predicting that the footage streamed to Britain alone, will contribute to a traffic rate of one terabit (one trillion bits) per SECOND. The traffic would be equal to 1,500 people all downloading a feature film each minute.
Olympic and sports fan Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia and went to school with two Olympic medal winners, Kim Gallagher and David Wharton. Watching their skill and determination inspired him. You can follow Freddy on Twitter: @thefredsherman.
More from this contributor:
- London 2012 Olympic Games