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Surfing the Twitter Games’ bandwidth: the business challenge


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The Internet Services Providers’ Association has warned of a “massive hit on the infrastructure” during the London Olympics, suggesting that businesses that allow employees to watch streamed content could encounter problems.

As long ago as last year, I talked about the significant challenge the Olympics would be for the UK infrastructure. While peaks in demand for high-profile events aren’t new, what is very different this time is the massive increase in social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

So in spite of pre-emptive efforts from the major network carriers, there seems little doubt that the internet will at times inevitably be congested and slow.

With many of the high-profile games taking place in the evening, businesses might think themselves less at risk than consumers. But there are two issues which make them vulnerable:

  • A lot of the games will be on in the daytime and different employees will be watching different games on individual laptops, smartphones, tablets etc.
  • Employees won’t just be watching live games but will also be on YouTube reliving the moment, tweeting to friends, giving their opinions on Facebook.

Both of these represent a huge drain on your business’s bandwidth.
So what’s the answer?

It’s all about control
For an IT department, it’s really about foresight and control.  It’s up to each IT manager to work out how much the Games will expose their particular organisation to a reduced service; you need to manage your end-users’ expectations about what will and won’t be acceptable and decide:

  • Are you going to allow employees to watch the Games at work, if so how much?
  • Are you going to allow access to social media?
  • Do you have enough bandwidth?
  • If not, are you going to buy more?
  • Would it make more sense to give access to the games on a few plasma screens in your offices?

ISP support
Crucially, you need to establish that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has enough bandwidth to support your strategy for the games. With the security lock-down of manhole covers and other network access points already underway in London, what plans does your ISP have to ensure not just bandwidth availability but also network resilience?

Redcentric, for example, is putting an upgrade in place this week that will bring a massive 600% hike in Internet bandwidth, split across Manchester and London. This is part of our ongoing investment programme and is aligned with the Olympics timetable. During the event we’ll also have a permanent engineering presence in London, supporting our network points of presence (PoPs) in the capital.

So while you may be facing an Internet hurdle, with careful planning it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle.



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