Business olympics UC

Sat in hospital waiting room on the Anniversary of the July 7th London bombings

London bombings – mobile network shut down.

Sat in the waiting room of Lincoln County Hospital. As I wait the media reminds me that it is the 10th anniversary of the July 7th London bombings.

I was in town at the time. The previous day I’d been at the Lloyds of London insurance building.  Doing a talk about Unified Communications to IT folk from insurance brokers. IT in the insurance industry in those days mostly involved replacing notebooks – the paper variety. The insurance industry is very conservative in its outlook.

We finished just as the announcement was being made re London winning the 2012 Olympics bid. Naturally a party ensued and later I staggered back (I should point out this was due to me carrying all the AV kit  (projector) and pop up booth) to the plush comfort of the Royal Scot Travelodge, nominally in Kings Cross.

We had an office in Camden Town in those days and the next morning it was a toss up whether  I hiked to Kings Cross Station with the gear to travel to the office on the one or two tube stops on the Northern Line or wait for a taxi. The Travelodge (I stop short of giving it the accolade of “hotel”) wasn’t in a good spot to find a taxi – they were mostly already full and going away from the train station.

Eventually I caught one and got to the office 10 minutes later to hear the news of the bombing. Had I decided to walk I’d probably have been there just at that time!!!

I had planned to catch a train home sometime that day. Not much chance of that happening. Noticeably the mobile networks stopped working. In the State of Emergency as was the networks close to the public to allow emergency services access only apparently.

By lunchtime there was no point thinking of doing any work. Lots of the staff hadn’t been able to make it in anyway. We hit the pub and I stayed the night with my sister who lived in Bal ham (gateway to the south). Caught the first available train nowf the next day.

I was pitching presence an IM to the insurance community. We never got anywhere with it but it’s the same stuff used by everyone in the world nowadays.

You should know that the 7/7 London bombings were still quite close in memory to the 9/11 tragedy in the USA. On that occasion I was stranded at a SIP Summit in Austin Texas and it took nearly a week to get a plane home. After being affected by both incidents my wife began to believe I was jinxed. Still married mind you 🙂

This Thursday I am in London for the Technology Marketing lunch. The transport system will again be in chaos as the tube drivers exercise their democratic right to withhold their labour. I suspect some French influence.

Don’t worry though. The restaurant is only a gentle 30 minute stroll from Kings Cross so it will still go ahead. We have three places left if you want to come. It’s going to be a very useful and informative session.

Featured image courtesy of Tom Bird, Portfast

datacentre Engineer internet olympics peering

Regional Peering in the UK

When I was asked to write a piece about regional peering I thought it would be a quick update on the current state of affairs in the UK. Alas with all these things I realised that I need to add a little back story. Feel free to skip over the content to the end if you know all the bits…

The Internet (and what its not)

Most people know the Internet is not a single entity but rather a collective of networks that use common standards to create a single network made up of independently run and managed networks that allow their customers and end users exchange traffic and therefore create the Internet and its public face – the World Wide Web.


At the edge of each network there are a bunch of routers that communicate with other adjacent routers belonging to other networks using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). At a basic level each network tells the other network what it knows about its network and (depending on commercial concerns) other networks it knows about using the BGP protocol. This information is shared in the form of “routes” which define a certain block of address space and how to get to it.

This leads naturally to a quick

End User olympics Weekend

Jenny Jones wins bronze – drives up internet bandwidth

olympics_headerJenny Jones drove up internet bandwidth use as people watched her take bronze online.

I thought the London 2012 Olympics were great. I’ve not given any real thought to the winter Olympics other than to note the run up in which the media hit us with “terrorist” stories and then tales of unfinished hotel accommodation, presumably for journos. I didn’t even watch the opening ceremony. I think I was down the pub.

Now the games are in full flow I’m getting into the swing of it, especially with programmes like the one about Torvill and Dean being shown last night. Yesterday I followed @jamienichollsuk and @billymorgan89. I don’t normally do that sort of thing but they both seemed like such nice guys.

This morning we watched the women’s freestyle snowboard competition and cheered Jenny Jones to her bronze, also cheering loudly, though of course sympathetically, every time someone who might have knocked her off her podium spot fell or made a mistake.

Eventually we, the kids

4g Engineer mobile connectivity olympics

4G speed test results in London – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone

4G4G test results in London – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone on a road trip.

Competition in 4G has been a long time coming. It’s almost a year since EE launched their service and we now have the Vodafone and O2 4G networks running, at least in London. When I took part in the O2 4G trials in 2013 the results were spectacular (43Mbps in the Devonshire Arms pub off Oxford Street) if confined to a few places – O2 used 25 cell sites for these trials. The results were great partly because I doubt that there were that many people using the network given that we all had dongles and not phones. You had to have your laptop out which aside from my coverage experiment conducted from the top deck of a moving number 25 bus meant that you had to be in a static location.

Now I have three networks to play with: EE, Vodafone and O2. It would be natural to expect that having had longer to roll out their network the EE coverage would be better. However with more subscribers using the EE service would their speeds be as good as the relatively empty networks of the new kids on the block?

The 4G test tools to hand were a Samsung GalaxyS4 running O2, a Nokia Lumia 920 on Vodafone and a Huawei 4G Mobile WiFi E5776 (MiFi) loaned to be my EE. The tests were conducted over two separate trips and on each occasion I had a Twitter pal along for the ride: @flosoft and @UKTamo. We also used @UKTamo’s SGS3 LTE running on EE.

In one sense because I was using four different devices the test conditions were not going to survive academic scrutiny. However having to go to the effort of swapping SIMs every time I wanted to run a test just so that I could do like for like testing wasn’t going to be practical. What you get here therefore is a mix of experiences with some real results mixed with subjectivity. It should provide a feel for the 4G experience in London.

4G speed testing at McDonalds KingsX We started off in McDonalds in Kings Cross. Day one was not an unbridled success as for much of the day the only network I had working was EE.  Having only just provisioned them, the new 4G SIMs on the other two took a while to kick in. Before realising this I thought that maybe the S4 and Lumia 920 needed a firmware upgrade. @flosoft averaged around 5Mbps using the McDonalds WiFi to download the software for the Samsung whereas I was getting double that using the EE 4G MiFi for the Nokia. Nokia took well over half an hour to perform the actual upgrade after downloading the software but it had still finished the job before the WiFi based software download for the Samsung had ended, let alone start the installation.

This became a theme. During lunch at the Nag’s Head in Covent Garden hanging off the EE4G Huawei MiFi was a better experience than using the pub’s WiFi. This is despite the fact that my Galaxy S4 is set to backup media to Google+ when connected via WiFi. Because of this any speed testing and usage on the MiFi will have been degraded because of the background uploading yet the experience was still good. It suggests to me that as 4G becomes more ubiquitous, cost of data aside, public venues will need to upgrade their broadband service if they want people to continue their WiFi rather than a cellular service.

As an aside during the 2012 Olympics I spent a lot of time testing mobile connectivity in London and found that when walking around the cellular networks were far more useful than the hundreds of thousands of WiFi hotspots in town.

Will 4G render public WiFi networks obsolete I wonder?

Roaming around central London saw very variable results with all three networks working on 4G. Handsets would switch between 3G and 4G by just turning a corner and 4G performance when in a low signal strength area felt not to be as good as 3G in the same circumstance. In theory 4G should be no different to 3G in this respect – maybe it just needs a bit more playing with.

4G speed testing on a number 73 busSat on the Number 73 bus between Kings Cross and Oxford Circus the EE network had more consistent 4G coverage than Vodafone – see the video. EE averaged 18Mbps on this route with only a couple of results dropping below 10Mbps to 5Mbps and 8Mbps.

Following on from the Nags Head lunch experience indoor coverage seemed better than I had been expecting. When my Vodafone 4G kicked in I managed to get 65.85Mbps at the back vodafone 4G speed test resultsof the Pop Up Brittain shop on Piccadilly. We saw 48.62Mbps down and 43.31Mbps upload with EE in a 2nd Floor Office in Castle Lane near Victoria which was the best combined performance. I was getting around 10Mbps down with both O2 and Vodafone at this location.EE 4G speed test results 48Mbps castle lane London

Vodafone and O2 are sharing cell sites so where you got 4G with one you would naturally expect the other to be present. This was by and large the case though sometimes one network would have better performance than the other at these locations which might be explained by traffic volumes.

We used for the testing and when comparing different networks it was important to be using the same server. For EE performance at one location rose dramatically when we switched away from the Yoda in Covent GardenVodafone London speedtest server – no dirty work on the go here I’m sure:). It was also funny that when I stood next to Yoda between Covent Garden Station and the Piazza I got a very poor Vodafone signal – the force was obviously elsewhere unless he wasn’t the real Yoda (Vodafone uses Yoda from the Star Wars movies for advertising purposes).

The fastest download seen was 73Mbps on O2 at South Kensington tube station. Sat at the Champagne Bar in Paddington I was regularly getting 58Mbps on Vodafone – indoors again (video here). The EE MiFi in this environment didn’t perform so well. Indoors in Paddington Station might be a poor EE coverage area but my guess is that there were too many WiFi enabled devices in the area and the MiFi struggled with the noise.

Overall I didn’t see quite the same peak speeds on EE compared with O2 and Vodafone. The fact that there are far more people on the EE network would explain this. As you might expect EE did seem to have better overall coverage, though this coverage was far from ubiquitous. There seemed to be pretty good 4G from all three networks in the main tourist and commuter hotspots – Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus (video here) and major train stations for example.

One additional data point is that I had to plug both the Nokia and Samsung phones in to charge by around 2pm after a day’s testing. I was carrying two Powergen Mobile Juice Pack 6000s especially for this purpose. Whether that tells you anything about battery life when using 4G I’m not sure considering I was hammering the phones. It probably does.

Overall it’s exciting to see three networks up and running now albeit only in London. It won’t be long before competition sees coverage improve everywhere – although it isn’t advertised I could get 4G from all three networks on the platform at Slough Railway Station.

Even the slower 4G speeds were pretty fast compared to 3G. I have to believe that with 4G the mobile networks have finally moved into the 21st century.

4G is definitely going to drive usage. I used almost 2GBytes in two days of testing with O2 – I’m on an 8GB package. I suspect the real issue is how quickly the networks will want to drive usage/fill their capacity. They will be able to control this with pricing. However although the mobile operators are desperate to move away from selling on price I can’t see them being able to do so long term. The market will have its way…

More speed test screenshots here from O2, Vodafone and EE. Thanks to @flosoft and to @UKTamo for their able assistance especially for the photos and screenshots of the test results. Thanks to EE for the loan of the Huawei MiFi – it’s a great piece of kit. I was hoping to be able to publish a comprehensive database of the tests but unfortunately the app only kept a certain number of results and the Windows 8 Phone version didn’t even seem to allow you to export the data. Ah well.

Other 4G posts:

4G as a fixed broadband replacement service here.

EE 4G mobile broadband roadmap here.

Google Hangouts over 4G here.

Apps Engineer mobile connectivity olympics

Funky Cisco stadium WiFi technology at The Barclay Centre

Cisco engineer & pal Stuart Clark sent me this link to a really cool stadium WiFi network deployment at The Barclay Centre. You will all of course know that the Barclay Centre is home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team (c’mon now – don’t tell me you’ve never heard of ’em).

The Cisco Connected Stadium WiFi Solution (for once they have a product name that tells it like it is) enables stadia to allow “visitors to keep up with box scores and player stats in real time. And for patrons who hate those long lines at half time, concessions can be ordered with the swipe of a finger from any seat in the house.” as the blurb puts it. All this from your phone.

I like this. Stadium technology is not straight forward as you will recall from the stuff  I wrote about preparations for the Olympics, ahem sorry London 2012 Olympics. The Cisco spiel uses lots of good phrases such as

  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to the core or distribution switches
  • Access switches that have 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) as minimum or 802.3at PoE+ ports
    (recommended) for powering access points
  • radio resource management
  • self healing, self optimising wireless networks

I can’t find any data that tells me how to go about designing a network for, say Wembley or Twickenham which would have a lot more punters sat in their seats than a basketball arena. I presume it is doable.

What I really like is the fact that the accompanying app allows you to order hot dogs etc from your seat. I can see huge benefits should they ever implement this at Sincil Bank, the home of my local side Lincoln City (up the Imps). The queue for burgers and pies at half time is massive-ish and it often takes the whole of the half time break for you to get served.

I can see problems though. At Sincil Bank you can sit anywhere in the stand your ticket is valid for, unless that specific seat is reserved by a season ticket holder (so most of them are free). The person delivering the hot dog/pie/burger/chips would have to wander around the stand looking for you, probably shouting your name and trying to make him or herself heard over the din of the tannoy announcing the winner of the raffle. The hot dog/pie/burger/chips could well have gone cold in the meantime.

I’m sure there must be a solution for this – it’s probably in a Cisco Application Note somewhere.

As I write I can think of lots of useful addons to the app, assuming they aren’t already featured. Sports such as snooker and tennis will have their own plugins – after all you can’t expect your order of champagne, strawberries and cream to be delivered to Centre court at Wimbledon whilst the game is in play. The same applies for snooker – you’d have to wait for the bit in between frames or when the players nip out for a toilet break which happens on an ad-hoc basis so the delivery scheduling would have to be able to accommodate this – easy small deliveries in between frames, larger more complicated ones during comfort breaks.

Anyway you get the drift. I can even envisage social media hookups so that fans can comment on the game in real time from within the app. I’d better stop. Got stuff to do. Ciao…

Business olympics spam

Unsubscribe UKTI

I’ve just unsubscribed from the UK Trade and Industry mailing list. I think I must have got on it from being at the Global Business Summit at Lancaster House during the Olympics. They need to improve their data base. I’ve just been spammed with an invitation to “Business Hindi for Beginners”.

Previously it was “Meet the Sports and Infrastructure Expert: Russia, Brazil and Israel” and before that it was “Business Japanese for Beginners”. Then it was “Financial, Professional and Business Services Roadshows for the ASEAN region (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia)”.

Maybe I’m being ungrateful because I did have a good day at Lancaster House. I guess it underlines the importance of accurate mailing list demographic data. Never mind. They’re gone now.

Engineer Net olympics peering

A funny thing happened on my way to #LINX79

Today is the quarterly LINX meeting. LINX79. It’s been going for a few years now – you can work out how long yourselves.

These are great meetings. You can learn more in two days here than in the rest of the quarter in between. LINX continues to grow. It in part reflects the growth of the internet but also the fact that LINX some time ago hit a critical mass and is a great place to peer if you provide connectivity to the internet.

LINX has 443 members. Last year the membership grew by 49. So far in 2012 they have had 86 new applications – that’s double the run rate of 2011! Since LINX78 only 3 months ago the peak traffic has grown from 1.431Tbps to 1.538Tbps and connected capacity has grown from 5.958Tb to 6.14Tb. What that is saying that the traffic is continuing to grow over and above the huge peaks we were seeing during the Olympics which themselves drove a significant rise.

For the sake of comparison if your broadband connection gives you 10Mbps (as I recall the UK average is now around 12Mbps) then the 6.14Tb capacity at LINX is about six hundred thousand times faster.

Colin McFarlane speaks his lines to Trefor Davies on the train to LondonNow to the “funny” bit. I bumped into a neighbour of mine on the platform at Newark Northgate station. Colin McFarlane is an actOr1.  He lives round the corner from me. Colin is working on a very interesting project that should hit the streets next year. It has a technical slant that I will talk about sometime in 2013.

You might know Colin as the Police Commissioner in one of the Batman movies or working with Rowan Atkinson in The Thin Blue Line. I’m sure he’s been in other things but not being much of a TV watcher I don’t know them.

Colin was on his way to Paris to record a cartoon voiceover and on his way was stopping off in London to audition for a stage show. He had a wodge of scripts in his hand and asked if I would help him to remember his lines.

Bear in mind we were in the quiet coach. So there I was reading a classic black American script in an American accent whilst Colin performed in the seat in front of me. I could almost hear the audience, breathless in anticipation of what was to come. Being in the quiet coach we could hear a pin drop. Very dramatic!

We finished the script, the rest of the coach applauded (very quietly) 2, the train pulled into Kings Cross and we went our separate ways – he to his audition and me to the TUC centre for LINX79. Colin did tell me the name of the play but I won’t share it in case he decides not to take the part. He is bound to be offered it, natch.

1 I left the capital O there to make sure you got the pronunciation right 🙂

2 Only joking there, they didn’t – I’m sure it was my fault not Colin’s, or maybe we were being suitably quiet


End User olympics

Three cheers for us – Olympics Paralympics

I’ve been in the car on the way to Slough (I must have been a naughty boy when i was a kid) and listening to the Olympic/Paralympic parade. I had to force back the tears. Even the hardest of cynics must surely have been bowled over with the last month’s sport.

This summer has been totally emotionally exhausting.  I didn’t think it could get more inspiring than the Olympics but the Paralympics have taken that inspiration to a new high. If we can aspire to a fraction of the achievement levels of every single competitor we will be doing well.

In the meantime we as a nation deserve to bask in our own success. Drop that traditional British reserve and congratulate ourselves.  Hip Hip Hooray :))

Engineer olympics

Olympic bandwidth usage growth

chart showing  http (web browsing) traffic before and during the OlympicsThought this would interest you. It’s a chart showing the http traffic on our broadband network in the run up to and during the London 2012 Olympics.

The change is quite amazing. This growth isn’t representative of all the internet traffic during that time – that showed an overall increase of 30% or so.

As a business ISP our peak traffic time is during the day with a smaller local maximum (ok mini peak) in the evening when homeworkers and road warriors get back and use their work-provided broadband.

We still saw the evening  mini peaks but they are dwarfed by the daytime ones.

That’s all folks…

Engineer media olympics

Technological Olympic conversations and what’s so special about Finsbury Park?

We all had a great time watching the Olympics, be it physically going to the games, on the telly or online (or all three). I’m sure we all agree that the BBC did a great job. There were comments regarding the quality of the NBC coverage in the USA but a) I live in the UK so don’t care and b) NBC apparently had 9.9 million users visiting their website so they just may have been getting their dose of Olympics from that source.

In the long run up to the games I wrote a great deal about the technology and capacity being put in place for the Olympics. The BBC in particular had geared its iPlayer servers up to expect 1Terabit per second of streaming. In the end the service peaked at around 700Gbps. The BBCs answer to hitting its capacity ceiling would have been to reduce the bandwidth available per stream rather than stop new users accessing the service or suffering service degradation so this worked out well.

Interestingly the Beeb says that it’s Olympic peak number of viewers expressed as the number of streams was during the Tennis singles finals at 820,000 requests.  Bradley Wiggins’ time trial  was similar to that of the Jubilee weekend at 729,000 streams. The peak daily volume was 2.8PetaBytes! 33% of all streams were to mobile devices.

Virgin Media, who had provisioned a huge 240Gbps of additional internet access bandwidth only ended up using a third of it. Good news from the customer experience perspective and the additional bandwidth now in place will soon be used up so it wasn’t wasted effort. Virgin’s peak was during Usain Bolt’s 100m final win.

Virgin also had a great story to tell with its WiFi on the London Underground. With hotspots in 62 stations Virgin had started the Olympics fortnight with 277,000 users registering 275,000 email addresses so some people must use multiple devices (presumably unless I’ve got it wrong). By the end of the games the number of users had grown 166,000 to 443,000. The number of sessions peaked at 20.7M on August 13th, the day after the closing ceremony with Finsbury Park being the busiest station!! What’s so special about Finsbury Park? Virgin’s Underground WiFi traffic grew by 34% over the Olympics period.

Evidence suggests that network traffic generally peaked the day after the closing ceremony which we can only ascribe to people catching up on all the Eastenders episodes they missed whilst watching the Olympics (losers!).

BT reported similar peaks at similar times to Virgin though its most popular times were for different events which just might reflect a different customer demographic. Also on the BT network the Andy Murray doubles finals game had more traffic than his singles which is different to what the Beeb was saying. Both could be true as BTs customers weren’t necessarily watching the live stream online. They might have been watching the games on TV and using the internet to fill in with other content.

BT also said that the saw a specific increase during Mr Bean’s stint at the Opening ceremony – folks sharing their excitement online or watching the video a second time – it was fantastic, fair play.

The London Internet Exchange traffic peaked at just over 1.2Tbps. Compared with its pre-games level of 1.1Tbps this might not sound like a big rise but we should remember that traffic normally drops in August because I go on holiday1 and taking this into account the actual growth is probably more like 170Gbps. Note LINX traffic in August 2011 was 800Gbps. This is not a like for like comparison as LINX now has more members using its network.

Btw if anyone can explain why Finsbury Park I’m sure all readers of this blog would be grateful.

1 only joking but you know what I mean – I tend not to use the internet when on holiday but I hammered it this time.

Business olympics

Wireless connectivity during the “connected” Olympics

Olympic long jump great Bob Beamon who is taller than Trefor Davies helped with the WiFi testing if he but knew itIn February I wrote about the O2 4G trials in London. The trials involved travelling around the city with a laptop and a 4G dongle looking for fast mobile internet access. Six months later I was back on holiday in London for the Olympics, billed as the “connected games”. As I was due to spend 8 days out of the Olympic fortnight in and around Olympic venues I thought I’d follow up the earlier 4G exercise with some mobile speed testing.

Highlights include the Apple Store, Virgin Wifi on platforms on the London Underground, the Cisco House at the Olympic Park and BTOpenzone at the Waldorf Hotel.

To test the 3G and WiFi networks after 4G seems the wrong way round but is still valid. The rise of the WiFi hotspot combined with the continuous increase in mobile data capacity are elements of the new mobile battleground for network operators. You don’t need to be a mobile operator to play. WiFi is strategic for both fixed and mobile players. It’s a competitive play amongst broadband providers and an offload mechanism for mobile players wanting to reduce the load on their cellular data networks

For the tests I used my Samsung Galaxy S3 and a couple of different apps from and The two apps produced slightly different results but in the great scheme of things were broadly the same – when the connectivity was good they both said it was good.

Rarely can a set of technical tests have been conducted in such interesting and historical surroundings. I started at home in Historic Lincoln on 31st July and did a quick test whilst still in bed at 5.52am getting around 8Mbps down and 400k up using my home broadband (boy am I looking forward to FTTC).

We stayed that night with friends in Historic Windsor. Their WiFi was up and down and the cellular data connection was near to non-existent at 11k down and 85k up.

In the morning of 1st August we were heading for the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff to watch TeamGB beat Uruguay. I jumped on the 15 minutes of The Cloud’s free WiFi at Historic Slough railway station and got a reasonable  5.9Mbps down and 1.6Mbps up. Upload speed is becoming just as important for me as download as I back up all my photos and videos to Google+ and like to post to YouTube.

Interesting that the WiFi at our friends house in Cardiff was a poor 1.6Mbps down but 3Mbps up. O2 mobile data speeds at the Millenium Stadium in CardiffI couldn’t get on the WifI at the Millenium stadium because I needed a BT Logon and being tight I didn’t want to pay for it. However the O2 mobile data connection was absolutely terrific at 7.7Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up. At half time as the 70,000 in the stadium switched their attention to their phones  the speed dropped to 3.7Mbps down and 0.8Mbps up. Still very usable.

I was very very impressed with the mobile data service in the Millenium Stadium. My first true Olympic experience. I experimented with uploading blog posts using WordPress for Android. Without photos this was no problem. It struggled with big attachments though and I found later that this was very much a function of the upload bandwidth available for that application – faster the better obviously.

At the Millenium Stadium I was also seeing how well the battery would last on the Galaxy S3. I went in fully charged at around 5pm and hammered the phone by taking lots of photos (bursts of 20 at 3 frames per second) and videos and with using the 3G data connection. After 3 ½ hours I still had 24% batteryGalaxy S3 battery and wireless data usage left. I took 273MB worth of photos and videos whilst in the stadium. On the 1st of August I used 180MB of mobile data in total, 74MB of which was accessing the phone’s photo Gallery which downloads images from Google+!  Speed testing used 27MB of data on that day.

The next day I took the kids to Lee Valley to watch Team GB win Gold and Silver in the men’s doubles kayaking slalom (yay). This was an outdoor venue as opposed the near indoor nature of the Millenium Stadium but I was happy with 3.4Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up.

The free Virgin Media WiFi in underground stations was a revelation.Virgin Media WiFi speeds on the London Underground station platform at Covent Garden In Covent Garden Underground I got 26Mbps down ad 44Mbps up! Wow. My biggest problem was that you didn’t have enough time to reconnect for the brief time the train spent in stations once you were onboard. Once on the train you realistically had to abandon any expectation of using WiFi for the remainder of your underground journey .

Also in Covent Garden the Apple Store gave 11.7Mbps down and speed test at Apple Store in Covent Garden - a great place if you need easy and free access to good WiFi25Mbps up. You may have noticed a theme here. The uplink often seemed to be faster than the download but I guess that’s to be expected as most other users on the hotspot will have been downloading and sharing that bandwidth. This was the same at Lancaster House on the Friday (25Mbps down 31Mbps up) where I actually had to do some work at a Foreign Office Business Embassy meeting and the following week at the Cisco House WiFi speeds at the Cisco House - click to see the view from the balcony(21Mbps down 48Mbps up – they 50Mbps of internet access and 2x10Gbps backup if they needed it!) where I was entertained to Corporate Hospitality along with Dr Henry Kissinger and legendary US long jumper Bob Beamon.

Henry Kissinger is shorter than Trefor Davies

I had been looking forward to trying out the WiFi in the Olympic Park itself having got myself a 5 day Openzone logon. On Thursday 9th August at the Aquatics Centre for the Womens 10m High Diving finals – my first day of using it – I couldn’t get on to the network. It transpired that the BT WiFi landing page didn’t like the Chrome browser running on my Galaxy S3, the official phone of the Olympics!  Back the next day for the mens handball semi finals between Hungary and Sweden I found that the native browser on the S3 worked ok and I did get  WiFi connectivity.

The speed testers initially didn’t show much speed so I tried uploading a video of the handball to YouTube. It took a 69MB HD video file 18 minutes to upload which in my mind works out as roughly 0.5Mbps upload speed. I did eventually register 2.87Mbps down and 1.6Mbps up at the Handball.

The cellular speeds at the Aquatics centre ranged between 1.7Mbps andAquatics Centre O2 Cellular data speeds 5.4Mbps down with uploads between 32Kbps and 1.6Mbps.

After the Handball I did test the Wifi at various spots in the Olympic Park. It waxed and waned a little but I did see 8.3Mbps down and 3.2Mbps up at one point.handball cellular speeds were generally better than the WiFi
handball wifi speeds - I uploaded 69MB video in 18 minutes



BT say they had over 50,000 unique users register on their WiFi network in the Olympic Park. This must be lower than they had been expecting considering the total number of visitors to the site in the fortnight.  I guess that unless you were getting it free as a BT broadband people would have been put off paying.

The Olympic Park WiFi did prove to be reliable with 100% uptime for the whole period of the games which is good considering the shaky nature of the technology. In fact the whole Olympic experience from the network operator perspective was great. All the hard work put in to ensure there was enough internet capacity for everyone paid off.

I did have a few more comparisons. The Travelodge in Covent Garden was giving me just over 4Mbps down and 1.6Mbps up but the Waldorf HoteBTOpenzone WiFi at the Waldorf Hotel was terrificl where I stayed for the Hyde Park Blur gig on the Sunday night showed a whopping 20Mbps down and 26Mbps up. You get what you pay for. The Travelodge was a cellular connection as I didn’t want to pay extra for the WiFi and at the Waldorf I used the BT Openzone login that still had a couple of days left on it so that was free. Interesting contrast of hotels I hear you say? I paid less for the Waldorf than I did for the Travelodge the week before – crazy mixed up Olympics hotel pricing.

At the Hyde Park gig itself you could kiss goodbye to data connectivity unless you had access to BT’s own office WiFi, which I did and which gave me a variable result around the 3 – 4Mbps down.

I did try to pick up Wifi wherever I was in London. At various times I could see Virgin, The Cloud, O2 and BT hotspots. They were rarely satisfactory if you were walking around but I guess they are intended for use whilst inside a venue. Cellular was fine the whole time.

In conclusion I did find some great connectivity in London and at Olympic venues. 3G was more reliable but where WiFi was good it was great. I sometimes found that whilst there was WiFi I had to pay for it which I didn’t like so I went without.

The UK is going to be an interesting mobile battleground over the next couple of years. I think 4G is going to prevail outdoors. Owners of indoor venues will I believe have to offer free WiFi or somehow accommodate multiple providers of WiFi that offer free access to their own subscribers.

Looking at my phone data usage for August (up until am 22nd) I used 2.02GB of 3G data and 14.83GB of WiFi. This is largely because I took 7.63GB of photos and videos in the same time frame which were all backed up to Google+ over WiFi. If we assume that my own usage pattern is how the rest of the consumer world will operate at some point then a mix of WiFi and 3G or 4G is always going to be needed unless mobile data costs come down to match those of broadband which seems unlikely in the near term.

Have a play with the map below to see screenshots of individual speedtests at different venues. You might need to refresh your browser screen to see it. Zoom out to see all the test locations or click on the “view larger map” link below to see all the pins.

View Wireless Network Testing During Olympics in a larger map

Thanks to David Nelson for the photos of Bob Beamon and Henry Kissinger.

PS Would have been nice to get all the pins in view straight awayon the embedded map but it wasn’t worth putting any more time in the post to perfect it.

Engineer olympics peering

If you see a network engineer pat him on the back and buy him a beer – Olympics good job #LINX78

I’m at LINX78 the latest quarterly meeting of the London Internet Exchange. This meeting is particularly interesting because it comes immediately after the Olympics and its attendees represent the vast majority of UK internet access networks. In other words the people responsible for making your web browsing experience a good one during the Olympics were all here.

This community of engineers should stand up and take a bow as part of the team that made the event a total success. Whilst there will be the odd exception and glitch the network of UK plc performed incredibly well. From a personal perspective although I was on holiday I kept in touch with the office from time to time.  The level of support calls in to the Timico NOC was as we would normally expect and we got the additional network capacity planning just right which is hugely satisfying.

CEO John Souter described the “Olympic  effect” seen at LINX in the run up to the games. Since LINX77 in May the exchange has seen a 20% increase in traffic capacity growing from around 5Tbps to 6Tbps. In a single month over 60 10GigE ports were installed as part of a capacity growth that month of 800Gig (including the first 100Gig port connected by BT).

The rush was prompted by a June 19th cut-off date for new capacity needed before the 14th July Olympic change freeze at LINX.

If you need some perspective consider that the average UK broadband speed is less than 10Mbps. The 6Tbps capacity is the equivalent of over 600,000 broadband connections running flat out. It’s not really a good way of looking at it as there are many other factors that need to be considered – networks have alternative routes to the internet , broadband connections not running at capacity to name but two. However it is a testament to the efforts made by the UK network operator community to ensure that their contribution to the Olympics was a success.

Note I’m told that the Dept of Business Innovation and Skills (Vince’s lot) asked for a daily report on how the LINX network was performing – such is the critical nature of this infrastructure. LINX is going from strength to strength. The exchange currently has 431 members with 64 having joined this year (that’s up on the 49 new members for the whole of last year).

If you see a network engineer pat him on the back and buy him a beer (several beers knowing the engineers I know).

Business olympics

How VIPs got around during the Olympics – security hard undebelly

We were walking through London to Hyde Park for the Blur gig and saw several of these convoys driving along Picadilly. I guess they were ferrying VIPs from their 5 star hotels on Park Lane to the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Park. The cops took no prisoners and were pretty aggressive with pedestrians and other cars that didn’t get the message to shift out of the way in a timely manner. The hard underbelly of diplomatic security 🙂

Business olympics

London 2012 – the epilogue

Usain Bolt - he didn't let us down :)I’m pretty much exhausted after the Olympics. I guess it doesn’t help having spent 8 days out of the fortnight one way or another down in London. It’s not coming here again in my lifetime…

The press is of course full of comment – they are going to continue milking it for all its worth as long as they can.

I doubt that there is anyone out there who doesn’t believe the games were a complete triumph. I am lucky enough to have gone to many events, partly because I have paid the money and partly because I received invitations from sponsors due to my seniority in the business. The Olympics have been great for me.

Whilst they have been billed as “the people’s games” I will volunteer that this is the one element that I had doubts over in the run up to the starting gun.

These games cost so much money to put on that many tickets were out of the price range of many people, assuming they could even get their hands on them. I realise we couldn’t fit everyone that wanted to go into each venue so supply and demand was part of this. Also the pressure to maintain the exclusivity of the big spending corporate sponsors meant that the Locog police went over the top in enforcing their branding rules. Stories abound of butchers not being allowed to display circles made out of sausages, or of local cafes having to change their long standing names because they included the word “Olympic”. This does not smack of people’s games.

The games’ huge success has to a large extent been because we have spent the money to “do it right”. Whilst it is now right for us to sit back and enjoy this success I do feel a certain regret that the Olympics have come to the position of needing to be huge and costly events.

Although the International Olympic Committee runs the games I don’t think anyone should feel that the IOC owns the games. They can only be there as guardians.

The games must be owned by everyone and it didn’t feel that the London games belonged totally to the people. They belonged in significant part to the IOC and Locog and the big companies that had shelled out lots of money for the rights to advertise their affiliation. I suspect that there is nothing we can ever do to change this for future games.

During the build up to these games I was free with my use of “proscribed” words and phrases such as London 2012 and Olympics. In part I hid behind the non-commercial aspect of even though I am patently affiliated with Timico, a provider of (high quality) communication services.  In a sense I was doing it because had I been hauled up before the Locog kangaroo court it would have been great publicity but I was also standing up for what I believed was right and that is the Olympics is ours not Locog’s or the IOC.

Anyway enough of the rant. I, like most of you I’m sure, do feel a huge sense of pride in our country’s success in London 2012. Although I am at this stage unlikely to ever be an Olympic champion (it has  made me feel old looking at the ages of many of the competitors) the success of our sportsmen and women has spurred me to wanting to achieve more in my own life.

If anyone fancies a game of conkers this autumn the season is not far off… 🙂

Business olympics

Gawd blimey guvnor lawks a daisy frog and toad me old sparrer

welcome sign at the Actor's Church in Covent GardenI should apologise immediately for confusing American readers with this blog title the meaning of which will be immediately obvious to UK natives especially those born within sound of Bow bells. I should explain.

plaque indicating that John Milton was born in Bread Street - interestingOn Friday I had breakfast at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen with business partner Terence Long who is a good lad and a pal. I then strolled towards Bank tube station to catch the underground to Stratford. It was a pleasant morning and I had a bit of time so I stopped at a pavement cafe outside a churcha lahtay for a lahtay.

Blow me down if the church didn’t turn out to be St Mary Le Bow – a Wren designed masterpiece and the original and one and only repository of the  Bow bells. For overseas readers (you know who I’m talking about) Bow bells are famous because true cockneys are born within earshot of them.

This is interesting because you probably don’t know that I was born at the maternity annexe of the Royal Free Hospital on the Liverpool road in Islington.  My parents had been desperately trying to get back to Wales but I came along before they could make it.St Mary Le Bow - a fine Wren church

Google maps tells me that Liverpool Road is a 2.3 mile walk which taken at an easy pace can be done in 46 minutes. I’d say that without the traffic noise, which of course would not have been there when the original definition of a cockney was fixed, that puts me in with a chance of being a pearly king, guvnor. Lumme. Lend us a monkey will ya?

PS Breakfast is top notch at the Bread Street Kitchen. Probably the best poached eggs I have had. If you get a chance you should try it.

PPS this last video is a countdown from the tenth floor of the salubrious Covent Garden Travelodge. I thought it was very much in keeping with the countdowns created by the BBC for the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Enjoy…

Engineer olympics

A stroll around the Olympic Park

Park Live - where you could go and watch proceedings on a big screen at the Olympic ParkJust a couple of general interest Olympic posts to go. I’m saving some work related ones for when I get back from holiday next week. The first video shows the view of the crowds streaming out of the Park after one of the sessions was over. You only got a relatively short stint at a sport for your money although you could stay in the Park to take in the atmosphere. There wasn’t much seating so I don’t think they particularly encouraged you to hang around.

The view was from the Cisco House balcony.BBC studio at Olympic Park Next up are the BBC studios – looked flash on TV but actually built up on a load of containers so not so flash when viewed from the outside. when lit up at night the actual studios looked great though.

It was quite nice to be able to see where most of the interviewing action had happened on TV. It was also possible to determine which presenter was on at any given time.

There were games makers a plenty to help volunteer gamesmaker at the Olympicsout if you needed it – usually just asking the way somewhere.

The last pic is of the BP House – a very reflective wall. The basketball arena is to the left and the athletes village to the right.

The video at the bottom is of some handball action with Hungary scoring. BP house at the Olympic Park

End User olympics

what a difference a day makes

an empty Covent Garden piazza at around 11am on FridayI’ve been in London a fair bit over the Olympic fortnight. It has by and large seemed fairly quiet but finished with a bang with the Marathon in the centre of town and the Blur gig in Hyde Park, of which more later.

The two pics on the right show Covent Garden piazza a couple of days apart. The first is a photo taken at 11am of where the buskers usually do their stuff. Pretty empty.

The second is at lunchtime on the next day. Huge difference. Maybe it’s the couple of hours that made the difference or that everyone was at the games on Friday and theyCovent Garden piazza full of people then came into London to watch the Marathon on Saturday.

We shall probably never find out and actually I doubt anyone cares.

I gave the busker we watched the previous week a fiver. Seemed reasonable. He gave us  a long show and we enjoyed it.

End User olympics

nice fly on the wall scene at men’s handball semi-finals

Thanks to KCom I was sat on the front row at the Hungary v Sweden mens handball semi finals – very interesting considering I’d not even heard of the game before – or at least never seen a match.

We were just above some disabled positions. A lady in a wheelchair asked one of the Games Makers to take a photo of her using her iPad. I whipped out my phone and took this photo. I wanted to catch him in the act of taking the pic but wasn’t quite fast enough. This is a good one though – they are both reviewing the photo and she seems very happy with the outcome 🙂

woman reviews photo taken for her by Games Maker at the mens handball semi finals

End User olympics

Olympic troops

off duty soldiers at the Olympic Games

Nice surprise to bump in to Powernet CEO Tony Tugulu at the KCOM bash at the Olympics. We did the touristy bits en route to the handball and had our photo taken with a couple of the boys in uniform. Being regular readers of the blog they were just as pleased to be photographed with us as we were with them 🙂

End User olympics

is this an Olympic or world record for most beers consumed?

beer barrels at the Heineken beer garden just outside the Olympic Park

Don’t know about you but I don’t think I”ve ever seen so many beer barrels. Maybe its because I’m a small town boy with a lot to learn about the ways of the world.

view of the Heineken beer garden from the Cisco House balconyThey were at the back of the Heineken beer garden which was just outside the Cisco House. The next pic is a wider view of the garden taken from the top floor balcony of the Cisco House. Didn’t go there myself as were were well catered for with teas and coffees etc provided by Cisco.

End User olympics

Big Mac anyone? Handball?

There was a lot of publicity over the fact that the McDonalds in the Olympic Park was the world’s biggest. In actual fact there were two McDonalds inside the Park, one of which is the subject of the photo below. I don’t know whether they were both the same size or not – didn’t venture in having had a lovely lunch with my excellent Friday hosts KCOM. Just assume you are looking at the biggest one.

get yer Big Macs 'ere - worlds biggest McDonalds restaurant at the Olympic ParkThe second photo is a panoramic view taken inside the basketball arena – kitted out for the mens handball semi final.  Iwas supporting Hungary (ria, ria Hungaria, ria ria Hungaria as the chant goes) out of allegiance to my mate Erv the Hungarian concert pianist – more on him when he is back from his summer break in Budapest. Unfortunaltey we lost but there you go…

If you click on the photo of the arena to get a bigger size pic you will notice that the press area covers the whole of one side of the court – a reflection presumably of the level of interest in basketball.

panoramic view of inside the basketball arena set up for handball - note size of the press box

End User olympics

mangled train wreckage or huge helter skelter?

helter skelter or iconic olympic scultpure?Having only just mentioned the Beatles here is another photo depicting one of their songs. At least I assume that’s what it is.

It’s either a helter skelter or the mangled wreckage of a train crash dumped in the middle of a waste ground without realising it was the spot they had chosen for the Olympic Park! Doh!

I didn’t get to find out – no time plus I bet it takes ages to walk up to the top and you’re bound to get dizzy coming down.

If I were them I’d stop using it as a slide on medical/health and safety grounds and turn it into an iconic metal sculpture which would be a far better use.

End User olympics

ello ello ello – wots goin on ere then?

trefor davies accompanied by four of the finest police in town:)

I’m on holiday though I’ve had to fit in the odd day’s work in my busy Olympic schedule. There are going to be so many enduring images from these games. I’m probably not in any of them.

I was going to do one big post just containing lots of pics from my Olympic watching but on reflection am going to do it as a series of shorts.

This one was taken outside the Aquatic Centre. I was there as a guest of Cisco who are one of the sponsors of the games. The police in the pic had been drafted in from Scotland and were staying in Hatfield for the duration of their stint.

Not sure the cap fits mind you.

End User olympics

Getting acquainted with Henry

Telling it like it is in real (ish) time. From left to right Dr Henry Kissinger, Trefor Davies and Calum Malcolm at the Cisco House at the Olympic Park.


Life is for living.

Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S3 courtesy of Cisco WiFi.

End User olympics

The view over the Olympic Park from the Cisco House

Nuff said.

Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S3 over Cisco’s 50Mbps WiFi

End User olympics

The importance of psychology

It’s been interesting to hear the observations of expert commenters that athletes perform better when the are relaxed. If  they are not in the right frame of mind their chances of success are greatly reduced.

When you think about it this applies in many areas. In cricket, for example, your mind has to be totally in the right space to win. The same team can win one game but lose another against the same opposition just by not having their minds in the right space.

Watching the beach volleyball last night it was clear that the Brazilian pair did not gell and they were thrashed by the Chinese.

These are lessons we should take onboard in our business lives.

I also hear the mantra “it’s the taking part that is important”. Well of course taking part is important but so is winning. You try telling Victoria Pendleton or Christine Ohurogu that silver is ok when for the last 4 years their mind has been totally focussed on winning gold.

Taking part is nice but it is better to be a winner. Again it’s all about attitude. Mental strength.

End User olympics

The hidden cost of the London Olympics

accoutrements needed for a trip to NewquayDrove four 18 year old girls to Derby yesterday morning. They, along with three other pals were catching the train to Newquay for a week on the lash a week of post A Levels recuperation. They deserve it.

We had originally booked them on a low cost flight from East Midlands but the operator cancelled it and a hasty change to rail was needed. The best route was Lincoln – Kings Cross – Paddington – Newquay. £65 all told in second class. I did suggest they treated themselves to first as it was still cheaper than the costs of the flights but that didn’t get universal approval.

What’s more amid the pre-Olympics hype about London transport congestion the party grew nervous about going anywhere near the capital and opted for the Derby route which was £20 more expensive but perhaps a safer bet. They had a date with a cocktail in Newquay they didn’t want to miss.

With hindsight there have been no transport problems in London, due mainly to the hype that has scared anyone not going to the Olympics away from the place. So the girls could have gone in more comfort for less money!

As a footnote, I have a big jeep. The girls had a lot of luggage. It all fitted, just, into my car. I think the parents might collectively have to review the return travel arrangements as the person lined up to pick them up next Monday night was doing so in an Alpha Romeo!

Also it’s a good job they didn’t fly. The excess baggage charges would have paid for a limo to take them all down in luxury. They even took a laptop with them!

End User olympics

A number of different views of the Olympic rings at Tower Bridge

The Olympic rings at Tower Bridge

After the Global Business Summit at Lancaster House on Friday I went to Tower Bridge to look at the Olympic rings – lit up at night. Here are a number of pics from the evening:

light show at Tower BridgeYou can’t see the rings in this first pic as they don’t turn them on until after the light show.
historic London - views of The Tower of London, Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast

Pretty impressive setting I’m sure you’ll agree.

We caught the Canadian news readers doing their stuff in front of Boris’ office.
Canadian TV crew doing their stuff in front of Tower Bridge

inside an English pub - for American readersThen finally I took this photo of the inside of a nearby pub – not because I went in for a drink – just because it was so bright and colourful as I was passing.

London can be a wonderful place to visit.

End User olympics

GB cha cha cha GB cha cha cha

magnificent panoramic view of the kayak slalom venue at Lee ValleyIf you are the single person in the UK not caught up with Olympic fever you need therapy. This is big time excitement. There is no way you should be doing anything other than sitting in front of that box taking in cycling/yachting/rowing/running/long jumping/kayaking/swimming/tennis/ano etc.

That said I played golf this afternoon when Murray was whopping Federer. Parental duties you know. However I have also just returned from the Olympic city where on Thursday at the Lee Valley kayak slalom venue we watched Britain’s Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott paddle to gold with team mates David Florence and Richard Hounslow taking silver in second.

One of the major features of these Olympics has been the support of the home crowd. I’ve got to tell you the TV doesn’t do it justice – you just don’t get a sense of the noise. Fear not dear reader for I have recorded it for your entertainment, education and general edification.

I herewith present to you a number of short videos that should give you a taste of the atmosphere at Lee Valley on Thursday.

Firstly the start of the British gold medal run:

Then a little later in the run – perhaps even louder:

The crowd doing a Mexican wave:

Flags of nations rippling in the strong breeze:

Business olympics

Global Business Summit at Lancaster House during London 2012 Olympics

The Gobal Business Summit at Lancaster House during the London 2012 Olympic games

me with old uni pal Dr Phillip Davies - MD of component manufacturer RakonI was very privileged to be invited to the Global Business Summit at Lancaster House in London on Friday. This was a showcase of the best of British Technology Businesses and the guest list was a mix of UK and overseas business leaders. It was one of a series of sessions promoting different UK market sectors and ours was the last one. Being right next to Clarence House security was about as tight as it can get. The cops here always carry guns. I had forgotten my passport at home but fortunately my driving license did the job for photo ID.

Vince Cable - click to see more of the VIP guestsWe were treated to a keynote speech by Vince Cable, UK government cabinet minister with responsibility for business and by CEO of Facebook EMEA, Joanna Shields. I won’t comment on the specific of the speeches by either of these two or by any of the other speakers in the morning and afternoon. They were all positive, upbeat messages from people involved in the technology industries of which we should be proud.

It must be said that we do know how to put on great events in this country. Obviously there are the Olympics which on the face of it are a huge success. This was very much a networking chatting with Vince cable and Colin Duffy, CEO of Voipfoneevent. As well as showcasing technology they were showcasing the best in British food and drink. We did our very best to sample it all – good manners and all that.

The food and drink was sponsored by the suppliers, I’m told. I’ll name a few: Bibendum, Nyetimber champagne (I realise we aren’t supposed to call it champagne but you may have noticed I’ve been feeling rebellious of late and it is just as good as the French stuff), Chapel Down and Primrose Hill wines – great I can recommend them.

The food was terrific – little bowls for lunch so that we could circulate and chat. Crab, braised beef, quail spring to mind. The canapes at the cocktail party after the talks were also very tasty – steak and chips, seared tuna, pea puree, amongst others. We had them with gin and tonics made with Tanqueray and Sipsmith gin and a cocktail called “English Country Garden” whose constituents I don’t totally recall (perhaps for obvious reasons) but which included Chase vodka and some kind of elderflower juice. I’ve included a short video of the Bibendum staff mixing the cocktail.

We aren’t supposed to take photos in “Royal residences” but everyone was doing so and the bar staff even took some of the shots for us. Also there were loads of official photographers clicking and recording away. No prizes but can anyone guess what the tapestry is behind the cameraman in the photo inset right. It’s quite famous. The artist’s name will do as an alternative.

Also click on the photo of Vince speaking to see some of the other guests – names? Finally who is in the photo of the panel? – click on it to enlarge and see more. As I said no prizes this time as I’m on holiday but lets see if anyone comes up with right answers.

can you name the tapestry behind the camera?

See ya…