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Metronet UK Fears Internet Meltdown During the London 2012 Olympic Games

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 (8:45 am) - Score 1,074

Metronet UK, which claims to run the country’s most advanced hybrid wired and wireless broadband network, has warned that some businesses could face a “crippling” impact upon their office networks as a result of the “anticipated bandwidth headaches” that are expected to stem from this summer’s London 2012 Olympic Games event.

The ISP suggests that many office LAN’s and internet connections “may not be capable of supporting multiple video streams“, which could allegedly result in some services becoming “swamped” and slowing down. In some cases it could even cause user terminals to “crash as a result of being asked to render live video feeds” (e.g. such as via the BBC’s iPlayer service or YouTube).

Two other business ISPs, BE Wholesale and Fluidata, have recently issued similar warnings (here and here). Even the UK government has suggested “that Internet services may be slower during the Games or in very severe cases there may be drop outs due to an increased number of people accessing the Internet“.

Official UK Government Guidance (PDF)

ISPs may introduce data caps during peak times to try and spread the loading and give a more equal service to their entire customer base. However, this has not yet been confirmed by these ISPs and we hope to have more information nearer to Games time.”

As a result Metronet UK has released a new guide of its own, which aims to provide businesses with practical advice on how to cope with these “critical issues“. It suggests that the “easiest way to pre-empt” the problem is to simply buy a television and thus give workers a way to view the event without using costly bandwidth.

Metronet UK’s 2012 Olympic Suggestions

1. All business critical applications should be protected by implementing suitable QoS (Quality of Service) policies. These should provide predictable response and bandwidth allocation amongst applications to prevent ad hoc demands for Internet content disrupting business processes.

2. External bandwidth (Internet) usage should be closely monitored at all times. Intelligent protocol analysis of traffic flows to and from the Internet can give visibility those web sites and IP addresses that are consuming bandwidth in real-time.

3. End users should ensure that they have full visibility of their LAN to ensure that any bottlenecks can be identified and addressed.

4. End users should have an emergency procedure in place to allow a total block of streaming video feeds if the business connectivity becomes jeopardised.

5. A procedure should be implemented to ensure that video feeds that are no longer being viewed are closed down so that they do not continue to indefinitely drain resources.

In reality warnings like this seem to be common around almost every major event and, while they usually have a semblance of truth, most competent office IT networks can manage it or will block video streaming entirely.

Just for the record that awful reference to an “Internet Meltdown” in the title came from Metronet UK’s official press release and not us. We’re fairly sure that the internet won’t actually “meltdown” during the Olympic’s as for one thing it’s not a nuclear reactor.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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