Why the London Olympics could lead to internet outages

Plans to let staff work from home during this summer's London Olympic Games might run into trouble if the government's warnings of possible internet outages come true.

The surge in people going online to watch the London Olympics could break the internet. Or at least severely choke it, the UK government has warned.

The Cabinet Office and the London Games organising committee is advising businesses that "due to an increased number of people accessing the internet" during this summer's Games that "internet services may be slower" or "in very severe cases there may be drop outs".

Even if there aren't any outages in internet services, ISPs may ration online access by imposing data caps during the event, according to the document "Preparing your business for the Games".

The speed of mobile data connections may also slow down during the Games, the document cautions, advising that content such as files and images may be difficult to download to mobile devices.

If the warning of internet downtime comes true it poses something of a dilemma for UK businesses, which have been advised by the government to allow staff to work from home during the Games to avoid putting pressure on the country's transport infrastructure. The Games' organisers predict that during the busiest day of the Games an additional three million journeys will be made on London's public transport, on top of the 12 million made on an average workday.

With the prospect of an overloaded internet falling over this summer the government is encouraging business to scale back their internet usage to help reduce the burden on the nation's telecoms infrastructure. For example, the document suggests that companies consider switching off bandwidth greedy video-conferencing in favour of an "alternative means of communication".

Organisations should also consider network upgrades to increase bandwidth in certain locations in preparation for the Games, according to the official advice.

At the very least companies should contact their ISP to discuss whether they will be capping their service during the Games and to work out the best arrangements to keep home workers connected during the Olympics, the document said.


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.


better be at the scene rather than sitting at the computer screen for hours. I mean there will be many events plazma screens installed at Hyde Park so people can just watch while laying down on the grass. a bicycle is a "must have" if you want to travel around the Venues of the Olympics and events areas. if you are just a visitor to London you can just hire a bike from Barclays Bikes (??1 per 24hr). (blog: some of the Olympics Venues maps/routes)

People sat at their desks streaming their fav sport in 2008, now with a wider spread including IPTV I can see a definate bottleneck emerging as even Mr & Mrs Average take to streaming. Maybe the answer would be to get the universities to go on holidays and use some of their very,very high capacity to supplement the usual.


Work from home because the transport infrastructure will be overstretched? Or work in the office because the internet will be too stretched to work from home? Planning? Plan to take a holiday, I think!


They've had 8 years to do something about obtaining/providing increased bandwidth over this period and seem to have done nothing. Now the rest of us get to put up with problems they've caused.


In theory they should use little more bandwidth than the use of a works' WAN connection. What they are worried about is staff at home surfing porn and torrenting whilst working.

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