Another article about the Olympics? Yeah, but this one’s different. It’s got Wenlock, and cool graphics.

One of 11.9 billion London Olympics images

At this year’s Olympic Games, social media users are spending nearly half their time watching the event and half their time communicating about it. At the time of this writing, a Google search of “London Olympics” images will generate nearly 12 billion results. Okay, some of these include an anatomic breakdown of Wenlock, the Olympics mascot. But a lot are good examples of the estimated 1 billion smartphones in capture-comment-send action.

The Games are a ‘make or break’ for mobile providers as fans from Asia Kik message one another, those from South America WhatsApp and eBuddy to stay current, and an even greater population iMessage, Tweet and Skype. Going into it, carriers knew this, and started planning back in 2009 to try to establish what the rise in mobile usage and infrastructure requirements for the London Games. The mobile and social trends infographic by Tektronix Communications (below) tells the story. To boost capacity by the estimated 10 times needed, operators decided to increase what was four mobile cells at the stadium to 40.


Estimates were short, and improvements not nearly enough. With high social media traffic, communication problems reported at the Olympics Games are demonstrating the mobile infrastructure is not keeping up with the growth in demand. It’s well reported that the broadcast of the men’s road cycling race had a number of issues, forcing the International Olympic Commission (IOC) to ask spectators in London to “take it easy” on social communication activity through their mobile phones.

When it’s all done, the London Olympics will serve as a learning opportunity for mobile carriers as they piece-apart the factors that led to service issues. The trick will be in understanding where and why it occurs, and using the Olympics as the best live case study the industry has ever had in terms of preparing itself for an increasingly demanding future.

And Wenlock, I dig you, and headlight (or whatever) is kinda’ cool, but when in London, I do my very best to avoid the hyper-active meter of a black taxi.