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UPD6 UK Broadband ISPs Survive 2012 Olympic Games Weekend Unscathed

Monday, Jul 30th, 2012 (9:13 am) - Score 930

Early indications suggest that the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony and weekend events failed to put any real strain upon national UK broadband providers. Several ISPs reported increased internet usage, yet none suffered any serious problems. But the first real test could come today.

So far the vast majority of the Olympics, from its opening ceremony to the first main events, have taken place outside of traditional working hours/days. As a result we’re not expecting to see any real impact upon business internet traffic until today. A number of major Swimming and Rowing events are forecast to take place during working hours today that could push the volume of office internet video streaming upwards.

The first hard data to arrive this morning came from the Managing Director (MD) of business ISP Fluidata, Piers Daniell, whom unsurprisingly saw no major uptick in traffic on Friday (27th July) because the Opening Ceremony began at 9pm. As for the weekend, Piers noted that, “we had nothing special on the graphing over the weekend as suspected due to the high volume of business customers on our network“.

fluidata uk business internet traffic olympics

Similarly the feedback we’re seeing from various internet monitoring systems and individuals working for major residential / domestic focused broadband providers is that they too saw only a moderate rise in usage, with many consumers appearing to prefer a traditional TV to video streaming solutions. So far we have not seen any reports of network congestion or related problems, such as packet loss and high latency.

Most ISPs have of course installed additional capacity to help cope with any rise in demand and businesses have had plenty of time to prepare, thus we’re not expecting any huge upsets. Several ISPs have promised us more statistics today and we’ll update this article as they arrive. However it should be said that the full impact won’t be understood until after the games are over.

UPDATE 9:43am

Zen Internet has informed ISPreview.co.uk that they actually noticed, “a significant reduction in bandwidth usage during the spectacular Opening Ceremony“. This would appear to support our assumption that people had turned to watch the proceedings on more traditional TV services, as opposed to the live video streams.

Andrew Saunders, Zen’s Head of Product Management and Marketing, said:

Our programme of capacity upgrades is now complete and we are prepared for the largest peaks in traffic during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. We did closely monitor the broadband usage on the network during Friday’s Olympic Games Opening Ceremony event but noticed a significant reduction in bandwidth usage during the spectacular Opening Ceremony.”

UPDATE 12:01pm

Communications provider Entanet has echoed Zen and Fluidata’s experience. Entanet has a strong contingent of home broadband customers but also saw no real impact upon their network.

Steve Lalonde, CTO at Entanet, said:

As you’d expect, Entanet closely monitored traffic in relation to the start of the Olympic events. Concurring with other ISPs, the opening ceremony and subsequent weekend events failed to make any real impact on bandwidth use by customers, suggesting that viewers preferred to watch on TV. As the first normal working day of the Olympics for most people, we’re monitoring with interest the affect on traffic.

Nonetheless, further to announcing significant upgrades to our UK network infrastructure back in April 2012, we have put in place additional bandwidth that provides the expected headroom required to ensure service continuity at levels that Entanet’s customers have experienced pre-Olympics as part of our day-to-day network management. To the total capacity we have also increased the size of Entanet’s available bandwidth burst capability. Naturally, we will continue to closely monitor performance across Entanet’s network throughout the Olympics.”

UPDATE 2:23pm

Fluidata’s Piers Daniell informs us that today’s traffic has been up 18%+ on the highest peak last week and still climbing. Piers also notes that the traffic increase is “much more consistent” and says it “will be interesting to view in a few days as I think the increase will be sustained for longer“.

In short. As expected usage during office hours has climbed, although at 18%+ above normal peaks it should be well within the limits of most ISPs to handle. Bigger events are yet to come.

UPDATE 31st July 2012

Cable operator Virgin Media has kindly sent us some information on their network usage over the weekend. Interesting traffic on Saturday and Sunday actually increased, while traffic on Friday saw a sharp decline during the opening ceremony.


* Overall broadband network utilisation was similar to previous week, however at approx 9pm, we saw a significant drop in overall traffic (approx 18%) until around 11pm as a result of people turning to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony on TV

* For TiVo, compared to the previous week, we saw a 75% drop in IP traffic using the built-in broadband connection (for apps and service such as BBC iPlayer), with a significant drop from 9pm-midnight as customers tuned into the live Opening ceremony on TV


* Overall internet traffic usage started to increase above normal from around 10am, with our network carrying around 10% extra traffic through most of the day.

* TiVo IP traffic saw a 100% increase in traffic, double the usual amount, from around 8am through to midnight with customers taking advantage of TiVo’s ability to pull in live streams and on demand content through its broadband connection


* Overall internet traffic saw an increase of about 20% as more people went online on Sunday, with the main periods of increase from around 11am through to 11pm

* TiVo IP traffic, like Saturday, saw approximately double the usage as customers watched more content through the apps and live streams. Customers were most active watching content from IP sources on TiVo from around 9am through to 11pm.

UPDATE 31st July 2012 @ 1:15pm

Fluidata reports that traffic on its network ended up being 37% higher yesterday than the previous high in the week due, they believe, to the diving in the afternoon. However evening traffic looked around normal.

UPDATE 3rd August 2012

It’s Friday and time to take a quick look back over the week commencing Monday 30th July 2012 to Thursday 2nd August 2012. According to Fluidata, internet traffic on Wednesday (1st Aug) was “our big day” hitting 41% higher than the previous high the week before as office workers took to video streaming. Otherwise it has pretty much been consistently 30% above the previous weeks following the same graphing trends.


Meanwhile the governments Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, tweeted this morning that “BT’s network use went up 25% when Wiggins won gold“.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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