London 2012: Are the mobile networks knuckling under pressure?

London 2012: Are the mobile networks knuckling under pressure?
With the London 2012 games being termed as the first "social media games", Facebook and Twitter are buzzing with Olympics excitement more and more. Viewers at ground level are doing their bit, soaking up the atmosphere, while passing it on to various social networks using their mobile devices.

But the question rises how are the mobile networks coping up with the traffic? Telecom networks like Vodafone, Three and BT have their reputations at stake as fans will be busy texting or tweeting almost everything that happens in and around the games venue.

According to the IOC officials, the peak traffic might reach 1.7 gigabits per second. To handle this around thirty mobile phone masts have been fitted across the arena, with 14 of them in and around the Olympic stadium alone.

But last Saturday's men's cycling event exposed the first chink in the armour of the mobile networks. The constant use of phones to update Facebook and Twitter to send photos by the hundreds of thousands of fans resulted in overloading of data networks which in turn affected the television coverage.

The reaction though was quite unexpected as fans were asked to avoid any non-urgent text messages and tweets.

This unexpected reaction from the IOC officials has sent the so called "social media games" tag given to the London Olympic 2012 for a toss.

With Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites all available in small pocket size computers called smart phones (BlackBerry, iPhone) that instantly deliver news; everything depends on the ability of the mobile networks to handle the traffic.

Be it the cycling incident or the Wembley stadium incident, one thing is for sure with the amount of money at stake the sponsors are all but keeping their fingers crossed hoping that the network crisis doesn't play a spoil sport.

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