Tweeting in London overloads one mobile network at Olympics.
The Olympics games has presented some challenges and with those has seen a large influx of people using mobile technology to get the word out at events. And one of the most used is going to be that of Tweets, those short bursts of text which are shared with the world over Twitter. After that comes Facebook and other Social Media activities where people share what is going on in their lives at the moment. And with the Olympics, we would expect to see a rather significant increase in those activities.
And that is exactly what has happened. There were a reported 9.66 million tweets from the actual start of the opening ceremony until the end of the NBC delayed viewing. While a decent number of those Tweets were from the US, it gives you an idea of just how popular Twitter is going to be during the Olympics. We had talked about the Olympics being the first true test for Internet Streaming, but was dealing with the streaming of video. It did not take into account all the Tweeting that was going to be taking place. And that is on top of the streaming video.
Since Tweets are short in nature, you might not think it would impact mobile networks. And you would be wrong in making that assumptions. There are reports of impacts to the Men’s and Women’s cycling events. This was for the coverage which was relying on GPS signals to be sent over a wireless network back to the broadcast booths. The numerous Tweets during the race placed too much of a strain on the wireless network for broadcasters.
In the coverage, they rely on GPS transmissions over the wireless networks from GPS devices on the cyclists which show position. It also shows how far apart the cyclists are from each other for timing. So, without those signals, those who were broadcasting the race where guessing using their own watches rather than the information collected and presented by computers. So, after the first 2 days of the Olympics, they are already having problems with the Internet and wireless streaming or Tweets.
One official with the Olympics said that those lining the cyclists route where sending hundreds of thousands of Tweets and would like people to not send so many.
“Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘Don’t, you can’t do it’, and we would certainly never prevent people,” he said. “It’s just – if it’s not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy.”
It is unclear as to exactly what an urgent Tweet is as compared to a not urgent Tweet determination is. We will leave that for others to try and figure out. I am not sure anyone is going to be able to make that determination. All Tweets are deemed as urgent when you are at the Olympics.
There were years to plan for the Olympics with new wireless capabilities being added for this very thing. There has been a Social Media commitment to support Twitter and Facebook, so one would believe there would be enough wireless coverage to handle anything people could throw at it. The live streaming aspect of the Olympics was very recent and appears not really matter as much as what we have seen in the past few days.
How many other events at the Olympics which depend on GPS which might be interrupted by high volumes of Tweets is unknown. The only thing we can hope for at this point is that the current handling of wireless mobile devices doing Tweets is handled far better in the coming days. This high volume test would have appeared to have failed when it came to the cyclists and GPS tracking.
So far, this is not a good sign for being able to handle high volumes of wireless traffic at the Olympics.