Mobile Traffic Jammed the Network at Olympic Broadcast

Controversy around the broadcast of 2012 Olympics Games in London does not seem to have come to a close yet. The International Olympic Committee had to request all attendees to avoid sending too many messages and texts. They have put a limit to the output of status updates only to ‘urgent’. Mobile updates by spectators at the Olympics clogged a mobile network that was being used by official TV data suppliers to transmit live telecast.

Twitter and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have both worked hand-in-hand for the endorsement of the microblog service to connect with athletes, competitors and London 2012. The IOC says that the increase in number of users accessing mobile social media at some Olympic venues has interfered with mobile networks on which the games themselves depend.

There are many television broadcasters who state that the coverage of Olympic cycling road races lacked official timing data supplied by the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS). There was one BBC commentator who actually relied on his own stopwatch.

However, the name of the underperforming network was not revealed.

The request to send only urgent tweets sounds ironic in the IOC’s own social media commitment. The way Twitter has undone coverage is even more agreeably ironic for all onlookers who compared the fortunes of each medium. Unlike the TV data issue, spectators do not yet seem to have experienced mobile signal issues during the games.

Some of the UK’s five main mobile carriers such as Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Vodafone, and Three had lined together with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to plan out 3G signal requirements around London well in advance. But now they had to ask users to prioritize use of their mobile so that the burden could be lessened.

It might have been embarrassing for the industry to watch the internal strife. The networks during broadcast were broken and so these concerns regarding volume in network could have been avoided.

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