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

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… 🙂

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

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 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!

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…

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.

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 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.

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.

End User fun stuff

Spring – the feelgood factor

sunlight streaming through my straw hatToday is one of those absolutely stunning Britishview in rear view mirror on the drive to work - car was stationary in case you were wondering spring mornings. You feel it everywhere. The smells, the gentle warmth of the lightest of breezes, the clear blue sky with just the faintest of clouds somewhere on the far horizon, the birds singing happily to themselves in the bushes. It’s the kind of day where I’ve often thought about turning the car around and heading for Skegness instead of going to work. I’m a rebel at heart. I didn’t do it today – not enough holiday to spare 🙂

We are in for a fantastic summer. Forget banking problems, the Euro, Greece, Spain (et al). Forget that jobs list1.  Think cricket, tennis, Olympics, Diamond Jubilee, festivals, even think European Championship football if that is your bag. Think tall cool drinks under shady trees, picnics on the riverbank watching the boats drift slowly by. Lie back and gaze up at the rays of sunlight filtering though your straw hat. Light up the barbecue then, when you have eaten and your faces are sticky with bbq sauce and butter off the sweetcorn,  throw a few small logs on the embers and enjoy the firedance, plucking away at your guitar until it gets dark and the empty bottle of wine or the realisation that it is almost bedtime tiredness drives you inside.

Life is short. Enjoy it.

1 except for the mowing the lawn bit – that needs doing to make everything else enjoyable, besides I like mowing the lawn.

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

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.


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

Business internet Regs

Boris Johnson promises WiFi for London

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has promised full WiFi coverage of London in time for the 2012 Olympic games. It would be ironic if the Olympic Games WiFi coverage was shut down because someone had been caught indulging in online copyright infringement. As Mayor will he be the one having to turn up in court?