Boris Johnson is hoping for a good performance on the high bars in the 2012 Olympics -- high signal bars, that is. The fright-wigged London mayor has said the Olympics will place "maximum strain" on the capital's phone networks, with 80 million people expected to be using their blowers at 100 different sporting venues next summer.
Bumblin' Boris said: "We are doing a huge amount of work to ensure there is enough coverage, but we have got to be realistic. In the men's 100m final, people want to download huge quantities of data, which will put a massive strain on the networks. We are looking to install enough masts and have enough physical infrastructure and coverage for the huge demands. I am confident we will crack it".
The phone networks won't just be used by those turning up to the events. People going about their everyday lives in London could be affected, not to mention the emergency services, transport operators and other essential folk who keep the capital ticking over.
The strain on the data network is likely to come from people tweeting and updating social networks, sending pictures, searching the Internet, and trying to work out how to get to and from the various venues.
Among the operators, O2 says it's investing £50m in its network, as part of which it's preparing a number of temporary sites. The company also plans to use a technique tried out during the recent England rugby matches at Twickenham, diverting extra antennas and network capacity to serve fans in the Olympic venues.
The networks have banded together with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to form the Joint Operators Olympic Group, which will co-ordinate efforts to protect our signal bars come next year. So that's LOCOG and JOOG on the case.
Bumblin' Boris could simply be managing our expectations, and this whole thing could turn out to be another Millennium Bug, the starter pistol firing with no significant network problems. Still, as Mama Crave taught us: plan for the worst and hope for the best. There is one solution, of course: free Wi-Fi for everyone. Get on it, Boris.
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