With the country still basking in the glory of the performance of its Olympic athletes, UK telcos are hoping the feel good factor will leave them with a legacy of their own.
The first signs are good.
Networks seemed to cope well, with no major reported outages on the mobile side or QoE issues on the fixed side.
As European Communications reported in July following O2’s outage, there were fears about how robust the UK’s mobile infrastructure would be.
However, Ovum analyst Emeka Obiodu said the absence of any real telco-related news during the two-week event proved operators had got it right.
“it was a case of no news is good news; the doom and gloom prior to the Olympics masked very robust preparation,” he said.
Mervyn Kelly, EMEA marketing director at network vendor Ciena, added that London 2012 had been “a huge success” from a telco perspective.
Unsurprisingly, BT – the official Communications Services Partner for the games – was very upbeat.
Howard Dickel, director of BT’s London 2012 Delivery Programme, said all of their services were performing “very well”.
“We’re seeing the value of our planning, testing and microscopic attention to detail,” he added.
So what did they see exactly?
Daily video traffic over BT’s retail broadband network increased on average by 19 percent compared to normal usage figures.
Dickel said the operator had managed “ some huge spikes in traffic”, led by Andy Murray’s victory over Roger Federer in the men’s tennis finals on 5 August.
BT’s “biggest day” was the 29 July – the day Team GB won the first of its 65 medals – when traffic on its UK retail broadband network hit an all-time high – a 23 percent increase on normal.
The BT-hosted official website, London2012.com, became the most popular sports website in the world during the Games with 1.2 PetaBytes of data being transferred at a peak of rate of 22.8 Gbps.
The entire Olympic network, which connected 94 locations, carried 961 Terra Bytes of information, according to BT stats.
On the mobile side, BT’s WiFi services saw a total of 13.2 million minutes (220,000 hours) of usage across the Olympic Park venues.
US-based vendor Tektronix Communications, meanwhile, worked with a number of mobile operators to monitor the QoE of inbound roamers – principally athletes, their families, coaching staff and other officials – coming onto the network.
President and CEO Lyn Cantor told European Communications that safeguards were installed to address fluctuations and peaks on the network, with alarms being triggered if there was any indication that users were experiencing difficulties such as dropped calls or jitter and latency disrupting video.
However, given the networks performed so well, major intervention was not needed.
Instead, operators will be analyzing the data collected and thinking about ways they can use it going forward, according to Cantor.
“Think what an operator could achieve if it had visibility of younger demographics that are receptive to promotional messages,” he said.
“If the operator had real-time visibility of those subscribers it could broker anonymous data with third party organisations, such as sports or soft drinks brands, to target those customers with targeted promotions based on location and relevance.”
Ovum’s Obiodu said UK operators should benefit from their experiences in other ways too.
“They have learnt how to run networks at peak capacity, how they should be provisioned and they can be fine tuned for optimum performance during the first full time social media Olympics,” he said.
“They have also learnt what people want and how they use technology, while the project management skills they have used to deliver this are invaluable.”
Ten days ago, Procera Networks outlined further lessons operators could learn following the first week of activity.
For Ciena’s Kelly, a few specific trends have emerged.
“First we are starting to see the ‘online all the time’ prophecy come true. Second we are seeing a further move to ‘real time’ as evidenced by athletes tweeting immediately after their races.
“Third, London was the first time HD video was all encompassing with people starting to try 3D, but in Rio 3D is likely to be the major technology.”
One casualty of all this could be all-you-can-eat data tariffs.
“These are unsustainable as video and smartphone increase in popularity,” said Kelly.
Nevertheless, Cantor concluded that operators should reap the benefits of London 2012.
“Insights based on the sheer volume of activity going through the pipes can provide operators with the critical insight they need to drive innovations in service quality, and customer experience management, for many years to come,” he said.
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