At the last summer summer Olympics in Beijing which took place in 2008, Facebook only had 60 million users. Four years later, as the summer Olympics in London are about to begin, Facebook has over 900 million users. This growth rate is jaw-dropping and faster than just about anything on this planet. Another market that is seeing similar unprecedented growth is the smartphone industry. Over the past year, smartphone sales grew 58% worldwide, with more than a billion people now using smartphones.
The massive growth of sites like Facebook, the smartphone industry, other streaming services such as YouTube, coupled with several million people using these services in one area has created a perfect storm to that can seize up and hinder smartphone capabilities. That means people in affected areas may find it impossible to receive/make calls and send texts. This may be such a tremendous problem because the growth of smartphone use is outpacing the development of the technology used to support it by companies such as AT&T, Verizon, or in the UK, O2.
In February 2012, Superbowl between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants prompted the most data usage ever for a sporting event, at more than 500GB, according to Paul Cooper of media and technology corporate finance advisers Clarity. The concern here is that “mobile phone users uploaded more data than they downloaded,” Cooper explained. With regards to the 2012 summer Olympics, which are expected to have millions more people, “this is important because Britain’s current networks are designed so that there is more download capacity than upload capacity. AT&T, the American phone company, had to invest substantially in new capacity to cope with the demand. And at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, internet traffic during the opening ceremony was five times normal levels.”
To cope with the massive challenge, BT, the sole provider of public Wi-Fi at the Olympic Park, has been charged with providing 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the capital for the Olympics. Wi-Fi is cheaper and faster than 3G/4G internet and the hope is that it will absorb vastly increased web traffic during the Olympics. Although free Wi-Fi is an excellent solution, a tremendous amount of effort has to be exhausted into mainly the visitors of England knowledgeable of this, and getting them to connect. Smartphone statistics