The trouble is, the 2012 Olympic Games start in two weeks…

O2’s total outage during the past 24 hours has raised questions about the readiness of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure ahead of the London Olympics, according to analyst firm Ovum.

“The huge influx of visitors to London ahead of the games will cause network traffic spikes, putting pressure on the UK’s mobile networks which already have a poor reputation compared to others in Western Europe,” said Steven Hartley, practice leader, Ovum Telecoms Strategy in an Ovum comment email. “While UK mobile operators claim to be prepared, they have not yet given indication of the scale of their plans.”

Is it fair to associate O2’s problems with speculation about what it may bode for the London Olympic Games? Probably not, yet it’s not encouraging at all to see a cellular network outage on such a huge scale just two weeks before the start of those games.

The bigger connectivity picture gives you more pause for thought, as a BBC report suggests:

[…] Analysts estimate this year’s Olympics will be the most data-heavy yet – with some 60Gb, the equivalent of 3,000 photographs, travelling across the network in the Olympic Park every second.

[…] To cope with the number of extra visitors to London during the Games, BT has been busy placing additional wi-fi hot spots around the capital. There will more than 500,000 hot spots, it says, mostly in the centre, which should make life easier for visitors from abroad keen to save on their roaming charges.

[…] So 300,000 people have tickets to an afternoon session and they are on their way down, and another 150,000 people coming from the Games – and they all come up at the same time. If they come up near a hot spot, all is fine. But then they will disperse, and suddenly you get people in other places, and that is a concern – when they spread along two or three mobile masts, will these masts be capable of handling that concentration of traffic?

Yet this is not all to be concerned about two weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games.

There’s more – Heathrow airport, the M4 motorway and event security – and it’s not good at all.

To start with, there’s the immigration issue at Heathrow with huge queues at the border checkpoint – an ongoing nightmare no matter what the government says.

It hardly bears thinking about: hundreds of thousands of extra visitors coming to London for the Olympics, and having to endure the chaos of a UK border passport and visa check.

The M4 motorway – the major road artery into and out of the capital from the west, including the main road route to and from Heathrow airport – was completely closed last weekend between junctions 2 and 3 due to emergency repairs. It’s still closed. The government hopes it will be re-opened “soon,” helpfully saying certainly before the start of the Olympics.

And then there’s the extraordinary matter of G4S, the private security company paid over £280 million to provide 10,000 security staff for Olympic venues – and who said yesterday that they will fall short by 3,500 people. The government is now mobilizing soldiers from the army to make up the numbers.

I don’t know about you, but all of this just two weeks before these Olympics start makes me feel extremely uneasy.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. A bit of a worry. | NevilleHobson.eu

    […] The trouble is, the 2012 Olympic Games start in two weeks… O2’s total outage during the past 24 hours has raised questions about the readiness of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure ahead of the London Olympics, according to analyst firm Ovum. “The huge influx o… […]

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