Business olympics

Great ad by British Airways – London2012 Olympics

great advert by BA during the Olympics in London

This photo speaks for itself – superb bit of marketing by British Airways in the London Underground during the Olympics 🙂

Business Net olympics

Logistics & Security at the London2012 Olympics

The Olympic rings at Tower BridgeTravel to and from the games: – a joy – the train to Cardiff was standing room only but we had booked seats – no problem. I travelled back in first class early the next morning with the lad so don’t know how the people up the back were. Most of the fans from the previous night will have either gone

reading material in the 1st class lounge at cardiff stationback that night or still be in bed sleeping off the beer. For the record the lad had two hot chocolates, a diet coke, a Fanta, a packet of hand cut crisps and a croissant – taking advantage of the free food and drink up the front.

At Kings Cross I noted no queues at taxi ranks.  Easier by and large than a normal day in town.

no queues at the taxi rank in Kings Cross StationConnections in London to get to Lee Valley for the kayaking – trouble free and swift with plenty of seating. We sat in first class between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt despite not having the right ticket – you know I’m a reb. Nobody checked the tickets in either direction anway.

On the way back we joined the 12,000 spectators emptying out of the venue for the 30 minute walk to the station. At the station we got on a train straight away and were whisked away within 30 seconds – unbelievable. In fact almost every connection we had to make had a minimal wait. The train was full but hey…

friendly cops at Lee Valley

she's a fair cop guv

it's a specialist job, pointing

Security at the games – reassuring without causing lengthy delays. The coppers were very friendly and happy to indulge tourist Tref with photo calls. The women PCs smiled beautifully (steady Tref). The presence of armed police showed the underlying serious approach to security.

The pointers too were very friendly and efficient. The numbers of staff on hand to help was overkill but you didn’t feel that. They were great and all out to enjoy the occasion.

The presence of the military was also comforting. The troops approached their last minute call up with professionalism and I have to say we all felt that much safer with them around. They looked confident in everything they did &  also had a special Olympic cloth badge (fwiw:)

Other logistics – the number of portable toilets stood out – I don’t think I ever say anyone queuing to go to the loo – got to be a result.

We arrived at the Lee Valley venue at lunchtime which consequentially meant huge queues for the food concessions. Because of this we waited until one of the breaks in the sport and were able to buy food with very little wait. £9.5 for fish chips and mushy peas if that’s your fancy. A sausage bap and a diet coke were around seven quid. Good quality nosh but v expensive. One man handed over more than fifty pounds to feed his group.

Connectivity – as in the Millennium Stadium I didn’t get on with the WiFi but didn’t need to because the 3G was good – 3.8Megs down and 1Meg up. WordPress for Android with a few photos didn’t work very well. Admittedly one was a panorama shot which seems to mess it up. This post was originally written at Lee Valley but I’ve had to retype it on the laptop at home.

I’m back at the Olympics next week and will try and take advantage of the WiFi at that time and report back.

End User olympics

No WiFi on train but power points more important

John and I are wending our way back from Cardiff to London in First Class with First Great Western. I like to teach my kids the right way to travel.

FGW doesn’t have WiFi like Eastcoast does but actually I’m finding that power is more important. 3G is good enough and having a fully charged phone for this afternoon’s Olympic kayak slaloms at Lee Valley is more important. I think 24 hours of battery life at flat out use needs to be the benchmark – 2 days for contingency. We aren’t there yet.

The lad is dozing whilst listening to some sounds on his phone. His copy of the Times newspaper made him nod off:)

I’m feeling a little rebellious. Last night we took a vuvuzela type horn into the GB v Uruguay match. It was on the list of prohibited items but if the Uruguayan supporters could take an entire drum kit into the ground it would have been entirely unfair to confiscate our modest source of atmosphere and excitement.

Today I am wearing my HP branded Commons and Lords Lions tour polo shirt and we have a Nike day bag. Totally against he rules laid down by the Locog heavIes. We also have a packed lunch which is apparently ok provided we don’t take too much – presumably in case we start selling food inside the venue. We could undercut the concessions and make a fortune, our only overheads being a modest Waitrose bill and the cost of the tickets. The latter has been covered by the mortgage so repayments will hardly be noticed over the 4 years between Olympic games.

I read somewhere yesterday that some politician (I can’t remember his name, which will obviously be a disappointment to the individual concerned) has said that the food prices are in line with other major events and that a family should be able to feed themselves for forty quid. That’s as may be but for most people forty pounds is a lot of dosh and I bet his family only consists of four people. Being a highly virile couple we have four kids which by my reckoning works out at sixty notes for lunch or roughly twelve pints of lager if you live in London as many readers of this blog do.

What a choice. Feed the kids or drink lots of lager. I suppose I could drink slightly fewer lagers and save some cash for a curry or a kebab afterwards (the hidden costs of a night out on the town). No no no only joking. Honest :).

Look out for me In the kayakIng crowd in my red HP polo shirt. Hasta la vista baby.

More later on my OlympIc holiday, from the WordPress dashboard of the Samsung Galaxy S3…

End User olympics

Millennium stadium postscript – 3G data performance & Galaxy S3 battery life

The mobile data service turned out great.I suspect if you weren’t on o2 it might have been a different story though I have no evidence of that.

The upload capacity did come under a bit of strain. It started at round 1.6 megs and dropped to 0.85 megs at half time but that is still good going.

I only really had 2 problems. One was with WordPress for android – it didn’t like the panoramic photo I included in the post.

The second was battery life. I hit the s3 hard with a lot of internet use and photographic activity. I was at the millennium stadium for two matches. By the second half of the second match the battery was running low so I switched off as I needed to make phone calls afterwards. This still wasn’t bed. After roughly 4 hours of pretty solid use I was down to 24% battery power remaining.

The catering at the ground was a different story – It was sIxquId for a sandwIch! My son queued for 45 minutes for a pizza only to find they had run out when he got to the front of the queue. This was during the first match! Whoever the caterer was I don’t have anything good to say about them.

It dIdn’t spoil the overall enjoyment of the evening which was a super family affair. The caterers could have taken a lesson from McDonald’s where I fed my son afterwards. It seemed as if the whole of the 70, 000 present at the ground went there. The queue went down quickly and it felt that those burgers were being served at speeds Usein Bolt would have been proud of 🙂

Posted using Samsung Galaxy S3.

End User mobile connectivity Net olympics

Olympic report from GBP v Uruguay

The game hasn’t started yet but the atmosphere is building up.this is a great family event but be warned. Queues are horrendous for the catering concessions and not a McDonald’s in sight – so much for the exclusive sponsorship. Maybe they only care about the London venues.

The mobile data connectivity is superb though I’ve not been able to figure out how to register for WiFi. I’m not a customer of BT broadband (I am but via BT Wholesale) and though I have a KeZone account with an Openzone roaming agreement I can’t see how to use it.

This actually doesn’t matter because much O2 SIM is giving me a fantastically reliable 7.5Megs down and 1.5 Megs up.

I have 3 pics for you. 1st is a panoramic shot of inside the stadium – just worked out how to do it properly.

The second shot is a screenshot of the speeders for the mobile data.

Finally there’s a photo of the 3g small cell antenna deployed in the stadium.





WordPress for android via s3

End User olympics

Test post

Am at the footy at the millennium stadium & trying to upload a post with pics. WordPress for android keeps crashing when I try to publish. This is to see if it uploads without photos.

Engineer olympics

Which #Olympic events are going to attract most online interest? #London2012 #Locog

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsI’ve got tons to do but I’m on holiday after this week (yay) and the Olymic coverage is building up to near frenzy already (gawd knows what it will be like when it really gets going) so I’m doing Olympic posts.  For the avoidance of doubt that’s the London2012 summer Olympic games if any of the Locog police are reading.

You will remember the post I wrote ages ago about the BBC’s own forecasts for iPlayer traffic based on the which sport is happening at the time. Now of course that time is upon us. Today the ladies of  Team GB football are taking on the mighty All Blacks at the Millenium stadium. Actually I don’t know if they are mighty or whether they are even called the “All Blacks”. I mean New Zealand ladies.

I’ve never watched a ladies football match, at least not in its entirety. I did watch “Bend it like Beckham” which I thought was a very enjoyable movie but  I digress. The Beeb reckons that this first ladies match will be more popular than the men’s game tomorrow. Do they know something?

BBC estimates of iPlayer busy periods during London 2012 Olympics - click to enlargeThe Beeb has in fact identified six sessions it has labelled as having the highest iPlayer demand. These are the opening and closing ceremonies, the mens 100m and 200m finals (good old Usain – don’t let us down), Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton on the afternoon of Tuesday 7th August (yay cmon guys) and the afternoon of Saturday 11th which has the finals of the men’s footy, hockey and basketball (yawn).

As I write I’m scanning through the BBC’s schedule showing its demand forecast and I’ve just found something that casts the whole process into doubt. On a scale of 1 – 4 where 4 is the highest demand the women’s beach volleyball finals are only rated a 2. How credible is that?

That’s it for now. I normally adopt radio silence when I’m on holiday but this time I will be posting live from Olympic events using my trusty Samsung Galaxy S3 and WordPress for Android. I must get a speed tester app on the phone. Also I’ve not gone yet 🙂

Click the inset box to see which events the BBC thinks will be busy.

End User olympics

Calm before the Olympic storm?

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsIf it’s Tuesday it must be London. Not if you’re a tourist. I’m down here for meetings but the place is remarkably calm. No queues at the taxi rank at Kings Cross Station, not many people around.

The taxi driver told me it has been one of the quietest summer he has ever seen. The regular tourists have stayed away. I’ve even been able to get a great last minute deal on 5 star hotel at a rock bottom price – only a few quid more than the Kings Cross Travelodge that is my usual haunt.

The London2012 games will soon be upon us and excited I am. I’m confident that they will  be a huge success and the PR failures of Locog will fade from the national memory (not mine though – i don’t forget these things:).

clean exterior at the refurbished London Kings Cross Station

I’m taking a chunk of the Olympic fortnight off. Not all of it – I’m off to a British Business Embassy meeting with Dave, George and Vince (apparently) on Friday 3rd August. If you’re going I’ll be the one wearing a suit! (I know – WTF do I hear you say?).

I’ll be with son number 3 (kid4) at the Team GB versus Uruguay clash of Titans at the Millenium stadium and with sons 1,2 and 3 (there are no more as far as I am aware) at the Kayak Slalom finals at Lee Valley wild water rapids fun centre.

Then the following week I’m at the ladies high diving final with Cisco, the men’s handball semi finals with KCom (yea I know – I’ll tell you what handball is when I get back from holidays if I remember) and then finally I’m with BT Wholesale at the closing concert in Hyde Park on the Sunday.

Thanks for all the invites for what are very important relationship building networking occasions.

I did um and ah a little about revealing all these tidbits but what the heck. Life is for living.  The Olympics will not be here again in my lifetime and it is a useful way of building up to saying if anyone wants to invite me to the athletics at the Olympic Stadium itself then there is a fair chance they will become my new best pal. Preferably Mens 100m or 200m finals or any other blue riband event.

Catch you later, maybe…

End User internet mobile connectivity olympics

Preps in place for the punters and their phones – London2012 Olympics

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsI’ve discussed what BT has done make sure the athletes, journos and hangers on have a great communications experience during the Olympics. That’s fine. For me though the biggest test is going to be what kind of experience we punters have.  There will be far more of us and we will be wanting to upload stuff and tweet just as much as the highest profile media type.

Engineer Net olympics

Olympic planning & infrastructure put in place by BT for the “Olympic Family”

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsDespite being the CTO of an ISP I’m not a geek. The project to install an Olympics communications infrastructure, although being highly technical, has nuances and beauties that you don’t have to be a geek to get your brain around. Read on for more information.

End User mobile connectivity Net olympics

Olympic torch relay, Samsung social media and getting down with the kids

I don’t know about you but I for one am reallytref with Olympic torch in Lincoln looking forward to the Olympics. I have tickets for three sports – footballing in Cardiff, Kayaking in Lee Valley North London and High Diving at the Aquatics centre in the Olympic Park. I could have bought more in the last release, including the much joked about beach volleyball but at £95 just for the ticket I decided I had to draw the line somewhere.

My own Olympic story started on July 6th 2005, the day the winning bid was announced. I was in London, doing some presentations in the City. That afternoon we celebrated alongside everyone else in town, a victory tinged only withOlympic torch in Lincoln a slight hangover as the next day London was under attack with the July 7 bombings.

Some time later I went on a sewer tour to look at the huge amount of latent communications capacity there is in the fibres running underground in the capital. I was told that the sewer runs right through the Olympic Park. I don’t fancy being a guards having to check down there during the games. Then for the last year or so the ISP industry has been starting to think about its requirements to keep the network running during the games. It’s mostly about bandwidth.

The 2012 Olympic games is going to be all about information handling. Of course it is also about winning medals, taking part and all the good sporting stuff but this will be embedded in a communications wrap the like of which has never been seen before.

In the UK the communications build up has been massive and not without its glitches – the ticketing website and process has attracted a lot of criticism. Now that tickets are being dispatched hopefully that memory will fade.

The serious communications infrastructure preparations have been going on for much longer.  BT kicked off its network planning in July 2009 and most UK ISPs will now have
their plans in place on how to cope with the growth in internet usage during the games – basically by buying more bandwidth from BT.

The media build up has also kicked in big time as the torch makes its way around the country. A quick glance at the Facebook page of “Olympics” shows it has 2.8 million “likes”. The London 2012 page has fewer at 379k likes – clearly a newer page and a slightly lesser brand though far more specific to this summer’s needs.

There is a Facebook App “London 2012“ which with only 900 monthly users looks decidedly unofficial although there are lots of links to genuine Olympic resources. Then there is “ London Olympics 2012 “ which is clearly unofficial with only 3,435 likes. I’m not really here to comment on whether something is official or not, the fact is there must be a huge number of social media pages dedicated to the event.

Last night I went to the Olympic Torch event in Lincoln. I was a proud dad as my daughter was dancing as part of the entertainment. Everyone there had a fantastic time. There is clearly a huge amount of support for these games in the UK.

Most of the entertainment was provided by three of the Olympic sponsors:  Samsung, Lloyds TSB and Coca Cola.

The Samsung act was particularly impressive because of its use of social media. It included “Twist” and “Pulse”, apparently a popular dance duo. It was at this point that I realised how out of touch I was. I had pushed myself to the front of the crowd of 10,000 people as I wanted a good view of my daughter dancing. I found myself there with “the kids” – mostly 12 – 16 year olds I’d guess. They knew all the acts and all the words to all the songs.

Anyway at the end of the act Twist (or Pulse – you tell me  🙂 ) went on about how these were the “connected games”. All the dancers took out a Samsung phone and started to take photos of the crowd. Twist was elevated onto a platform and took a photo of the entire crowd. That’s 9,999 people (should have been 10,000 but my youngest son was playing cricket – beat Scunthorpe U12s by 10 wickets!).

Samsung entertainers Twist and Pulse with dancers taking pictures of the crowdHe then told us that the photo had just gone live at People were then encouraged to visit the page to tag themselves using their Facebook ID. I did this – you can see me here (somewhere).

Think about this. The torch is visiting 70 locations. If there are 10,000 people on average at each location then that is 700,000 people being encouraged to engage with Samsung online.  Everone who tags themselves  are effectively providing Samsung with valuable social media marketing data. These people are also all going to tell their friends to take a look at them in the crowd and at the same time they are all uploading their own photos.

There are two types of person going to the Olympics this summer – us and them. The “us” are represented by all the punters, with or without tickets at the venue or milling around just taking in the atmosphere of London.

The “them” camp is divided into competitors, media and the rest of the Olympic family – the hard working folk of Olympic committees around the world over for a junket to oversee the smooth functioning of the games.

These games are likely to be the most technologically rich Olympics we have seen so far. BT has installed a 60Gbps core network in preparation. Despite encouragement from Samsung the heaviest users are going to be the media. 60Gb amounts to 2.7Mbps for each of the 22,000 accredited media personnel at the games. That’s around 30  x  maximum usage per connection seen at a typical business ISP and sensibly has a significant amount of headroom built into the capacity requirements.

As we approach the Olympic fortnight I’m going to be taking a more detailed look at the technology that has gone in to making it all (hopefully) a success – both from the point of view of the “Olympic Family” and us normal folk. Stay tuned.

Also check out this video of the Red Arrows flying over the Olympic torch relay event – they are  regular visitors to the skies over Lincoln. On this occasion their leader spoke to the crowd over his intercom – uber cool.

End User olympics

Olympic snippet

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsLittle Olympic factoid for you. The last time the Olympics were held in London, in 1948, there were 2,000 press representatives. This time around there are going to be 22,000 media people. Most of them will be over to cover the women’s beach volleyball finals which is why there weren’t many tickets for the rest of us.

You can picture the scene. The small cordoned off area normally called the press box will actually contain the paying punters whilst the rest of it is for the journos and photographers. Those in the cordoned off area will not be allowed to take photos because they will be the few unaccredited persons at the venue.

I’m a bit cross I didn’t think of this earlier. It might have been cheaper to buy a press accreditation (global blog audience etc) than buy actual tickets for events and that almost certainly gives you all areas access to the last night party. The kids could have come along as camera bag carriers etc.

They might have been a bit suspicious when they find out I was just using my Samsung Galaxy S3 with its camera burst mode. Usain would probably come out a bit blurred but it would give you a feel for the event.

Ah well I’ll have to think of that for the next time.

Business olympics

Ticket very much not master

ticketmaster or ticket not very much master - that is the questionI tried to buy Olympic football tickets this morning.powered (though not very well) by ticketmaster I want  to take one of my kids because he is a big fan. You know how it works.

I went onto the ticketing website at 5.30am to sign in and make sure all was well in preparation for 11am when the tickets went on sale. All was not well. When looking at my “confirmed tickets” I got the screen shown inset on the right. “We are currently experiencing high demand and the page you have requested is temporarily unavailable”. Unavailable my foot – at 5.30am!

On previous occasions the message has said that the info is not available “whilst seat allocation is taking place”. This was the message for the last few weeks. Gimme a break. How can it take so long to allocate seating using an electronic system. It can almost certainly be done at the flick of a switch.

Back to today.  Just before 11am I signed in

Business olympics

Timico’s Olympic preparations – a public service announcement

All sensible network operators around the world are completing their preparations for the London 2012 Olympics at the moment. And Timico is no exception; we and our strategic partners have been planning for the Olympics for some time and have taken a number of mitigating actions.

We’ve emailed all of our customers to give a summary of the likely impacts and the steps we’re taking to minimise problems. This blog expands on that email with some more details. You can also see what some of our strategic partners are doing to maintain their network integrity during the events.

How busy is the Timico network going to be?

Engineer olympics

iPlayer demand forecast scheduled by session at the Olympics

Just sat in one of our ongoing planning sessions to calculate our bandwidth BBC estimates of iPlayer busy periods during London 2012 Olympics - click to enlargeneeds during the London 2012 Olympics. It’s a complicated call and we will be telling all nearer the time.

One of the data sources we are using is the BBC’s own estimates of iPlayer traffic growth. The inset photo shows when the BBC is expecting heavy iPlayer traffic loads and is based on the sport/competitor mix for any given session.

The colour coding scheme doesn’t tell us how much traffic is expected for each event but the Beeb is planning for a peak of 1Terabit per second.

The capacity planning and quality management  for the Olympics is not totally straightforward because there are factors involved outside the control of any individual ISP. Load on the iPlayer servers is one and the traffic at individual exchanges is another. As an industry we are going to have to be nimble to make sure that our customers’ experience is a good one.

More as I get it…

Engineer olympics

Olympic Readiness of fixed and mobile networks

The UK telecommunications community, including all major Timico network partners, has put in a huge amount of preparation in readiness for the London 2012 Olympics.

This includes additional capacity, network security and the ability to cope with and recover from major network incidents.

As a lead sponsor BT is responsible for all the communications services provided during the Olympics. BT has been active with its customer groups, including Communications Providers such as Timico, to understand capacity demands for core communications services during the games.

These include

Business olympics

London 2012 Olympic Countdown – some key dates from a network operator perspective

London 2012 Clearway 2012 Olympic routesWe are all back and, I assume suitably refreshed from our Easter break – that’s Spring break for readers in the USA. We can now start the official countdown to what is likely to be the most intensive summer of activities that we have seen in the UK, at least as far as I can remember and I’m old.  If you haven’t already noticed from previous posts I am very very excited about the Olympics and from now until the games intend to write as many posts as I can manage on the subject.

To set the scene it is worth talking about key dates for the diary. This summer is not just all about the Olympics. There is a lot more going on.

broadband Engineer olympics

I’m Just a Big Kid, Really – Excited about the Olympics

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsJust had a communication through from BT re planning for the Olympics. This year the good citizens of the United Kingdom are divided into two camps – those that are looking forward to the Olympics, think it is a great thing and are really excited, and those who think it is a huge waste of money that would be better spent on hospitals and schools and have been whinging about it ever since it was announced.

I am excited. What’s more I have tickets for me and the kids to see the kayaking slalom finals aaaand we have some great friends in Windsor who have kindly agreed to put up the whole noisy lot of us (and before anyone chips in we aren’t kipping at Windsor castle – they already had too many people staying). That for those of you who know the Davies’ (6 of us) is a big ask.

I’ve already posted about the expected growth in traffic on ISP networks during the Olympics. Interesting research just in is a look at the lessons learnt from the Vancouver Olympics.

One in four organisations suffered broadband network capacity issues

End User olympics

If You Haven’t Got an Olympics Ticket I’d Think Twice about Going Anywhere Near London in August #LOCOG

TfL interactive tool showing that London is going to be choked for much of the OlympicsCould the London2012 Olympics be the new Y2K? I suspect not. Y2K came and went and we all looked back and wondered what all the fuss was about.

I have just had an email from Transport for London telling me that for large chunks of the day I can expect to have to wait longer than 30 minutes to board some tube trains. I regularly come in to Kings Cross in the morning and the underground is sometimes so busy on a normal commuting day that they shut off access to the platforms because there are already too many people down there.

If TfL is talking over 30 minutes wait the queues just to get through the door will be enormous. extract from TfL advice showing huge anticipated congestion at Kings X station This is bad enough if you have tickets for an event and need to get there but is also a bit of a shame if you don’t and were just hoping to hang around the city soaking up the atmosphere. It might not prove to me as much fun as you had anticipated.

TfL has clearly gone to a lot of effort modelling the passenger traffic scenarios over the period of the games. Check out their interactive tube map here. It’s a bit like the BBC’s own predictions for iPlayer traffic. The annoying bit is that the BBC, along with all ISPs in the UK I’m sure, will have additional capacity in place to cope with the increased traffic levels.

It looks to me as if TfL has just come up with this interactive map and told everyone they would be better off walking. I suppose that is planning of some sort! If you ask a London Cab driver what their plans are for the games many will tell you they are going to see how it goes for a day or two but think they will probably end up taking the time off and going on holiday which will compound the problem.

If employers in London haven’t yet put contingencies in place to facilitate homeworking for all their staff over this period then now is clearly the time to get their act together1.

PS London is also often “full” on a regular weekday. ie there are no available hotel rooms. I’d take a tent if I were you.

1 Timico specialises in supporting homeworkers and  provides thousands of broadband connections for businesses for this very purpose  – mail me at [email protected] if you want to know more.


broadband Engineer Net olympics

Olympics Broadband Numbers BT Style – #Olympics #LOCOG

Usain Bolt - billions of fans want to see him win at the London 2012 OlympicsThree years or so ago someone placed an order with BT. Uhuh!  But this was no ordinary order. The order read something like this:

  • 80,000 connections across 94 locations
  • 4,500 miles of internal cabling
  • 60Gb per second available bandwidth
  • 1,800 wireless access points
  • 16,500 telephone lines
  • 14,000 SIM cards
  • 14,000 cable TV outlets

Juicy eh?  If you were a BT salesman taking that Olympics broadband order you would be planning your retirement. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple.  This is what BT is providing for the 2012 London Olympic Games and the order was probably taken by CEO Ian Livingston himself1 .

There are other interesting numbers to dwell on.

Apps Engineer media olympics

2012 – Summer of Sports on Steroids – BBC estimates more than 2x Football World Cup traffic levels

growth in BBC iPlayer coverage of Olympics2012 or as the BBC puts it “Summer of Sports on Steroids” 1 is going to be another milestone year for the ISP industry with the UK playing host to the Olympic games and another record anticipated for internet traffic levels. On Wednesday at the ISPA conference we had Jane Weedon, Controller of Business Development at the BBC talking about their preparations for the games.

The coverage in 2012 is going to be comprehensive with pretty much 100% of the sport available to watch as it happens – up to 27 simultaneous channels at the peak towards the end of the second week. This will have grown from perhaps 15-20% of coverage at the Sydney games 35% in Athens and 65% in Beijing (click on the header photo for graphic illustration).

The peak traffic during the South Africa Football World Cup hit 450Gbps with everyone going online to watch the EnglandiPlayer traffic levels during Football World Cup v Slovenia match. For perspective this year so far iPlayer traffic has peaked atiplayer traffic levels in 2011 220Gbps.

So look out ISPs.

The forecasting of traffic levels for these games is in reality going to be very difficult. On the higher demand side the games are on home territory and will appeal to a wider demographic than the Football World Cup. To counter this device proliferation may lead to the streaming being distributed over a wider range of media – 3G mobiles and tablets, public WiFi zones, offices providing big TV screens and the fact that many folk may well take the two weeks of the games off on holiday.

Medals success for Team GB is also going to be an influencing factor.

The Beeb has gone into significant detail in estimating demand on a session by session basis and has come up with a forecast of  10 x the traffic levels for London as they saw in Beijing. That’s 1Terabits a second 2  at the peak in streams averaging 1Mbps.

That’s enough Olympic bits for the moment but there is so much interest in this subject looking ahead I’m going  to be looking out for more Olympic stories to share.

1 Steroids is perhaps an unfortunate word to use in this context

2  Nobody is going to hold them to this forecast but it certainly gives us all an indication of what to expect

End User mobile connectivity olympics

That smell of rubber, the roar of the turbo-powered engine, smart phones and the Olympics

Tref in reception at the WIlliams F1 conference centreI attended a Telindus sponsored Consumerisation of the Workplace workshop on Tuesday on my way down to the Convergence Summit. Jean Marie Stas of Belgacom gave a talk about tablet adoption – his experiences seem to exactly reflect my own – especially when it comes to the wife always asking if she can borrow your iPad.

The workshop came up with a few interesting snippets. Firstly Cisco has stopped buying mobile phones  and just give staff vouchers so they can go and buy their own. They are apparently looking to do the same thing with tablets and PCs. This seems very much to be the way forward.

Some of the service providers around the table were reporting that there was a significant interest from many areas in BYOD, notably in the Financial Services market. Workers in this industry are highly paid and typically want all the latest gadgets which is at odds with the need to maintain security and compliance.

This correlates quite nicely with

End User olympics

Olympic mania starts early

I’ve applied for my Olympic tickets in the ballot. Not cheap for a family of six but hey, how often are we going to get the Olympic games at home?

The ISP industry is already trying to get its collective brain round the impending “Olympic problem”. A great deal of planning went into ensuring that users had a great experience during the 2010 football  World Cup in South Africa.  It may be recalled that the UK was responsible for something like 21% of global streaming traffic during the weekday England afternoon match.

I am expecting the Olympics to take us to even greater heights, certainly in terms of actual bandwidth used if not in terms of percentages aka the football – there is likely to be a far more evenly spread demand due to the truly global and eclectic nature of these games.

This problem is near impossible to model. How many people will take the two weeks off and therefore not be in the office to use their internet connection? I imagine that it will be harder for consumer ISPs as even if you are at home watching the games on TV people have now got into the habit of also watching it on the internet/participating in twitter streams/keeping up with real time text inputs.

This is going to be an interesting subject and I’ll post the odd update as we get nearer the games. Note that in doing some cursory research on this I wondered about South Africa’s own internal internet usage during the World Cup.

A search for “internet bandwidth use in south africa during the world cup” yielded the following result:

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, 18 October 2010 — Due to the high demand for bandwidth and other Internet connectivity challenges, video from The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization was delayed on Monday — but should be available soon. Technologists serving on the Congress staff have been working around the clock to resolve the issue.

‘This is an unprecedented level of Internet usage for the country of South Africa, even more than when the World Cup was here,’ explains Amy Donovan, Tech Squad Manager for the Congress. ‘We’re taking video of every single session and will be broadcasting it to the world as soon as our technical problems are solved.

This just goes to show that for some, unlike former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly,  football is not more important than life or death. I didn’t help me with Olympic traffic forecasts either:)

Engineer internet olympics

Surreal Sewer Story

The things I have to do for the business. Today it was almost like being in a James Bond movie. I turned up at 10am prompt at the Thames Water Utilities Depot in Bow in East London – just around the corner from the site of the Olympic stadium which incidentally seems to be shooting up. I was met by Calypso Harland, bubbly marketing manager of Geo, the Alchemy owned business that sprang out of 186k’s UK fibre optic network.

I had been invited to inspect Geo’s London fibre ring which, yes you’ve guessed it, runs through the sewers. Donning layers of protective clothing I disappeared into a subterranean world for a once in a lifetime experience. Believe you me I doubt that anyone wants to do it twice.

The 140 year old Victorian sewers under London are I suppose of cursory interest. The message actually was that Geo can provide very cost effective and very secure fibre backbone connectivity because they use the sewers and don’t therefore have to dig up the roads.

What is interesting is the huge capacity there is down there. Geo run 4 ducts, three of which are currently empty. A duct can hold two fibre cables each with 288 strands of fibre. Each fibre can, using current DWDM technology, run 160 10Gbps channels (x 4 if you use phase modulation per wavelength).

So by my sums the Geo London ring should be able to operate at nearly 15 Petabits per second or roughly a billion times faster than the latest and greatest 21CN ADSL2+ connection. That’s a heck of a lot of capacity.

And for anyone that wants to know no, my thigh length wellies did not leak and no there were no floaters in sight – something to do with a high fibre diet apparently! 🙂

These sewers run on the surface (covered up obviously) right through the Olympic site. Come 2012 they will likely be crawling with security guards!

Check out the Geo video here.  Photos below:

End User internet media olympics

BBC iplayer

I caught up with some reading on the BBC  iplayer last night and lifted some interesting facts.  iplayer now has over a million users a day with 1.7 million download requests. The BBC is expecting it’s 300 millionth “play request” anytime now.

During the Olympics usage rose by 40% which is is reflected in the increase in internet usage I reported back in the summer.

What I found amusing was the fact that people only watch a programme for 22 minutes on average which the BBC finds to be a good statistic. Only 35% of viewers watch a 30 minute programme in its entirety. To me this is an indictment of the quality of what is provided for punters to watch and reinforces why I don’t watch TV (Dads Army, rugby internationals and other free to air sports excepted).

For the geeks amongst you the BBC runs the service on 200 servers, has 92% peering which hugely reduces their cost of delivery (though not ours) and peaks at 100TB a day of streaming traffic.

There’s lots more to read in the EBU Technical Review which quotes a number of sources : 2008-q4_iplayer

Business internet olympics peering

Internet Usage Surges During Obama Speech

Internet usage has skyrocketed with people watching the Inauguration of new US President Barack Obama online.  At first glance it looks like even more people are watching this than went online to watch the Beijing  Olympics.

The picture below shows a snapshot of traffic over the London Access Point (LONAP) exchange.


It looks to me  from the right hand peak as if traffic has risen almost 50% over the same time yesterday. This compares with around 24% increase seen by Timico during the Olympics (see post). Fortunately Timico has the capacity to cope.

If you want to follow realtime traffic across LONAP you can check it out here.

Business internet olympics

ISPs heave a sigh of relief after end of Olympics

I wrote recently about the effect of the Olympics on internet usage. At the time we had seen a 10% or so increase in ADSL based internet usage as people went online to watch the opening ceremony.

Well the success (hooray) of Team GB prompted even more people to watch the Olympics online. Timico saw a staggering 24% increase in peak ADSL internet usage. Ordinarily this would have caused a problem to our customers because Timico has a policy of not thottling usage – the increase in usage would normally have slowed the performance of their web access.

However in this instance we had had the foresight to order additional capacity as part of our standard planning process and were able to bring it forward so that it timed nicely with the success of Team GB.

Interestingly our customers with homeworkers showed a much lower increase in usage than those with connections into their offices – presumably this was because homeworkers could have the TV on in the corner of the home office and didn’t need to watch online.

Now that the Olympic Games are over everything is back to normal.

Not sure about the name “Team GB” though. What’s wrong with “Great Britain” – would have been far more appropriate under the circumstances. My kids, suitably enthused, have already put their names down as volunteers to help in 2012. I’d do the same if I could be sure of getting in to watch the beach volleyball.

broadband End User olympics

The Olympic Effect

Readers might be interested to know that the Olympic opening ceremony stimulated an increase of almost 10% in internet usage last Friday afternoon.

It will also be interesting to hear whether the consumer ADSL customer community will have seen any changes in the performance of their connection as their ISPs begin throttling to cope.

Business olympics

Nortel and the 2012 London Olympics

Nortel just announced that they have been chosen to provide the communications infrstructure for the London 2012 Olympics. This is quite an achievement because as well as voice it involves the provision of a wide area network that one might more normally associate with Cisco. I get the impression from Nortel that power consumption/Carbon footprint played a part here although I’m sure that in such a complex bid there were a great many decisive factors.

Their press release talks about having to support 205 sporting organisations, 20,000 media, nine million spectators and over 4 billion viewers worldwide. I’d like to have been the salesman getting commission from that lot. No doubt there will be a few tickets floating around for Nortel partners wanting to attend the track and field finals:-).