Does mobile performance deserve a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

So, for all those interested, the 2012 Olympics are fully underway in the UK. Sports enthusiasts around the world are following their favorite disciplines and notching up the medals each athlete is winning. If the Beijing Olympics were called the first ‘Digital Olympics’, the 2012 are angling for the first ‘Social Olympics’ tag. And so far, it is winning.

Friday’s opening ceremony, watched by one billion people globally, saw 9.66 million mentions on Twitter – that’s more tweets in a single day than during the whole duration of the Beijing Olympics in 2008!

As ever, this causes some issues though. Partly due to the increased social media use on mobile devices at events and from those commenting on the games via their devices, mobile data usage is said to double during the Olympics, leading to problems with bandwidth for broadcasters trying to share their recordings. Olympics officials have even been advising people to avoid using Twitter and mobile data to share updates as it affects the wireless networks. So it looks as though we can’t be social if we aren’t ready for mobile.

How could the UK have avoided this tussle with bandwidth? By using such a key sports event to drive technology upgrades – the UK is struggling with its current network capacity because LTE (or 4G as it is more widely known) has not yet been widely deployed.

This doesn’t just apply to the current Olympics. Mobile operators have to be ready to cope with additional pressures on bandwidth for other upcoming sporting extravaganzas. Whether the Brazilian World Cup in 2014 or Russia’s Winter Olympics in February 2014 in Sochi, both countries’ mobile operators are gearing up to equip the main sites with 4G in advance of the upcoming sporting events. While the key word is bandwidth, there are also potential additional revenues they could be making from an LTE network that works well.

With decent bandwidth you can surf the web at the same time as following sporting performances in real-time on mobile TV. While Olympics officials recommend that the UK public decrease their levels of mobile social media activity, now is a good time for the Brazilians and Russians to increase activity around the potentials of LTE – ensuring watchers can follow all goals and sporting achievements via mobile devices for online viewing, while looking for additional revenues operators can gain from it.If London had upgraded to 4G/LTE in time for the Olympics, better communications would be possible and everyone watching on their devices around the world wouldn’t have to suffer poor broadcast just because enthusiasts are taking to social media to share their experiences.