Olympics relying on public networks for coverage data

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Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.

London 2012 Olympic officials want fans to ease up on SMS and social messaging — because they're trying to use the same data networks for event data, and congestion is causing problems.

Go easy on data at London 2012.
(Credit: Cygnett)

We've already looked at some strange rules about using Wi-Fi hotspots and sharing pictures from the London 2012 Olympic Games. And now we're starting to see why.

According to Reuters, during Saturday's cycling road race, GPS tracking data was failing to feed through to television broadcast partners. The problem turned out to have been caused by general network congestion in the area, due to fans getting out their phones and sharing the action themselves.

So one International Olympics Committee (IOC) spokesperson has made an appeal to fans messaging at the Games, suggesting "if it's not an urgent one, please kind of take it easy". The spokesman conceded to Reuters that asking people not to send messages is unlikely to have any effect.

Adding a little twist to the drama, it seems only one network was having congestion problems. And it was not the official communications service provider for London 2012, BT.

So, the Olympic road race data was being fed to broadcasters using a network that was not their official partner network. And it failed. Seems the IOC has learned a valuable lesson in using their official partners to provide official services. Expect IOC members to exclusively eat McDonald's and drink Coca-Cola for the rest of the Games.

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