Tuesday, 24 July 2012

London 2012 Calling, Texting, Tweeting...

With 500,000 visitors set to be welcomed to London on an average day in the peak season (including day trippers) it is inevitable that

‘Mobile networks may be slowed down at peak times during the Games.’

London organisers say that" Additional capacity and coverage for mobile phone networks is being put in around Games venues. This will overlay the existing coverage provision and existing customers can expect a ‘normal’ service during Games-time.
However, at times of peak demand it is unavoidable that mobile networks may be slowed down by higher volumes of traffic. Voice, email and low-data traffic are unlikely to be affected, but it may be difficult to download larger content such as files or images."

So what exactly has been done behind the scenes to ensure your mobile digital life isn't disqualified by our games.

BT have installed free Wi-Fi in 500,000 hotspots around London. (that's 1 wifi hotspot for each of the expected 500,000 visitors)
Smartphones are set up to love wifi over mobile networks, which is great for users as these are increasingly free and always faster than 3G networks. In the UK 3G is currently the fastest way to transfer data over a mobile network, although the big operators are testing and investing in 4G or LTE, we don't have this availability currently Its auction looks like being put back to at least 2013 too.

Source: Apple
So the plan is that these extra hotspots will take some of the strain off our everyday mobile networks, allowing us to tweet or facebook that must share "look at me, at the Olympics" picture to our mates. The thing with wifi, though is it's range isn't usually huge and if we're on the move, we may quickly become out of range and then rely on our everyday networks.

According to clarity smartphone users upload more data than they download, this isn't so surprising when you consider the massive growth of the social networks and our insatiable appetite for sharing photos, videos and checking in to places.

In a recent article in The Guardian this is what the main contenders said about how they have prepared to keep our mobile devices connected "O2, whose network is piggy-backed by mobile service providers giffgaff and Tesco Mobile, said it had invested £50m in its network to help cope with the increased demand during the Olympics.
A spokesman said: "As an industry, we have been planning for over two years, and O2 alone has invested £50m in London 2012 – increasing capacity on the current network and building new temporary sites across the country. On top of that, Wi-Fi will also play a huge role for those people who will want to use data services at the Games, including Facebook and Twitter."
Everything Everywhere (EE), which operates the integrated Orange and T-Mobile network, said: "We've invested millions of pounds to ensure a good experience for both British and international visitors to the Olympics.
"We've also increased measures in place to maintain service and operational stability during the Games. Additional field maintenance resource in the areas of the country most affected are in place, alongside dedicated incident managers to ensure a very rapid response to any service-affecting incidents."
How's your signal holding?

A spokeswoman for Virgin Mobile, which also runs off the EE network, stated: "We're thoroughly prepared for the Olympics right across our business and we're working with our network partner to ensure the best experience for our customers during the Games."
Stuart Newstead, spokesperson for the Mobile Experience Group, which represents all UK operators in the UK, said all companies had been working together for two and a half years to get as much capacity into and around the Olympic venues as possible.
"UK operators have been adding extra capacity to their backhaul networks and adding additional carriers and sectors to antennas to meet the expected demand. But it is an unprecedented level of demand, and all we can say is that we are as prepared as we can be.""

There's only one way to answer this question, and we shall all have to wait and see.
What do you think will the mobile infrastructure hold out? Leave us a comment

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