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Overloaded Cell Network Interferes with Olympic Coverage

By - Source: Reuters | B 13 comments

Not all at the same time, everyone.

An event as big as the Olympics is watched by millions at home and abroad. Not everyone can attend an event themselves, and instead have to settle for watching the Games from home. However, for many people, that coverage was interrupted this past weekend.

Reuters reports that during Saturday's coverage of the men's road cycling race, commentators were unable to get timing information because of issues with the communications network. It seems the cyclists' bikes were equipped with GPS chips. Unfortunately, an overloaded network prevented data from these chips from being transmitted. This meant commentators were unable to provide details such as how far back the chasing pack was from those leading. As a result, the IOC has asked spectators at the games to 'take it easy' when it comes to sending messages or tweeting about the games.

"Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say 'don't, you can't do it', and we would certainly never prevent people," Reuters cites the IOC spokesman as saying. "It's just, if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy," the spokesman continued, adding, "We don't want people to stop engaging in social media but we are asking to see if people can send by other means."

According to the Register, O2 was the network responsible for the issue. "There was a capacity issue with Box Hill at the weekend," an O2 spokesperson told The Reg. "You can imagine that all of the people around that area were frantically using their phones so that was the reason for the oversubscription."

Thanks to the advent of smartphones, tablets and other MIDs, organisers of events like the Olympics now have to worry about whether or not local infrastructure can withstand the added pressure of so many people in one place. The fact that ticket-holders at Olympic events are apparently prohibited from posting photos and video to social networks should help, though.

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  • 3 Hide
    CTPAHHIK , July 31, 2012 12:23 PM
    O2 is the most oversubscribed network in London. On top of that, O2 has least 3G coverage and slowest 3G network. It's not surprising that there is an outage.
    Have to give O2 credit for not crashing as they did few weeks ago.
  • -2 Hide
    teh_chem , July 31, 2012 12:33 PM
    Sounds like the IOC is going "communications crazy" on Olympics attendees. Also sounds like they didn't plan accordingly. Given all of the hooplah over observer-related tweeting, youtubing, etc., I'd use my device extra just out of spite. Not that it would really matter.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2012 12:59 PM
    Not allowed to share videos and pictures, eh? Goodluck controlling that, you asshats.

    Did anyone rerally think that people would obey that edict? Seriously . . . it's the Olympics. People take pictures to save memories and SHARE them. Especially of momentous occasions, like, say, one of the world's longest running global traditions. Yeah. It's kind of a big deal.
  • 4 Hide
    icemunk , July 31, 2012 1:02 PM
    Maybe if the telecom's would invest more of their profits into the network, instead of paying it out to greedy shareholders.
  • -2 Hide
    DSpider , July 31, 2012 1:04 PM
    Radiation level over 9000!

    No, seriously. Multiply 2 W/kg (maximum SAR level allowed by the European Union) per attending person (times 2.1 million people, that is).

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/despite-empty-seats-london-olympics-attendance-tops-21-million-in-first-3-full-days/2012/07/31/gJQArsAWMX_story.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_absorption_rate
  • 0 Hide
    zhihao50 , July 31, 2012 1:41 PM
    your math is not quite right. Apart from SAR shouldn't be used that way, you are using max allowed not average and also the 2.1million is over 3 day period so actually there is a lot less at any given time.

    you can simply the calculation down even more by assuming most phones are apple iphone which emites 1.1w/kg.
  • 6 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 31, 2012 2:16 PM
    Its a shame, you'd think network operators would prepare for this.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , July 31, 2012 3:25 PM
    Hmmm.....This is interesting. There is a special event at a location. It is an event that will not be repeated at that location for many many years. Do you think that O2 might have thought it was not worth beefing up the communications network for a single event that probably will never be repeated at that location?
  • 2 Hide
    NightbladeXX , July 31, 2012 3:56 PM
    Cell Provider Execs to Cell Provider Engineers: "We need to increase our coverage and operational capacity for the upcoming Olympics!"

    Cell Provider Engineers: "Sure we can increase the infrastructure to handle the increased traffic of the 2 million people its just going to cost XX Millions of Pounds!

    Execs: "Well what does a few extra pounds get me?"

    Engineers: "Well we can optimize the software for a few extra pounds."

    Execs: "Great! Make it happen!"

    Engineers: "Roger Wilco!"

    Execs to Marketing: "Tell the media we've increased the infrastructure to handle the increased cell use during the Olympics!"

    Marketing: "It will be in every paper, TV news, and all over our website!"

    Execs to Accounting: "Give me an outlandish bonus for our outstanding coverage of the Olympics!"

    Accounting to Execs: "But! But ... The Olympics haven't even started yet!"

    Execs: "Make it happen!"

    Accounting: "Of course my master."

    Execs to Marketing: "Prepare to boast about how well we did during the Olympics, and find a scape goat in case something goes wrong ... preferably some mid-level management type who is close to retirement!"
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2012 4:00 PM
    Just another reason Romney was right saying what he did. Maybe London wasn't ready after all.
  • 1 Hide
    shqtth , July 31, 2012 4:11 PM
    When the games was here in Vancouver, never once did I have cell phone issues. We had 4G/LTE service too.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 1, 2012 12:50 AM
    TeholNot allowed to share videos and pictures, eh? Goodluck controlling that, you asshats.Did anyone rerally think that people would obey that edict? Seriously . . . it's the Olympics. People take pictures to save memories and SHARE them. Especially of momentous occasions, like, say, one of the world's longest running global traditions. Yeah. It's kind of a big deal.


    Network down. Please try again later.

    Olympics officials: "..."
  • 0 Hide
    pythy , August 1, 2012 3:39 AM
    Just to help out, I've sent a msg to everyone to tell them not to send msgs unless it's urgent and to pass this info on.

    You're welcome IOC.