Texts and tweets mess up Olympic cycling coverage

Texts and tweets mess up Olympic cycling coverage

Summary: GPS units carried by cyclists in the men's road race on Saturday were reportedly unable to transmit coordinates back to Olympics broadcasters, due to the network strain caused by spectators lining the route


Heavy texting and Twitter usage by Olympics spectators apparently led to poor television coverage of the men's cycling road race on Saturday.

TV commentators struggled to provide accurate and up-to-the-minute information about the race, because spectators lining the route clogged up the local mobile data networks, Reuters reported. The athletes had GPS units that were supposed to constantly send co-ordinates back to the race organisers by SMS, but this was made tricky by the network overload.

Without this data, commentators relying on the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) were left unable to accurately say how the race was developing.

"From my understanding, one network was oversubscribed, and OBS are trying to spread the load to other providers. We don't want to stop people engaging in this by social media but perhaps they might consider only sending urgent updates," an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

However, games organisers pointed out that the timings of the race itself were not in doubt, as there were precise timing points at the start and finish. Many of the people lining the race route would have been there to support the British hopeful Mark Cavendish, who ended up in 29th place.

For months, there have been concerns over the strain the Olympics would put on mobile networks in London. All the major network have beefed up their capacity around the main venues, in an attempt to cope with the surge in demand by spectators and officials.

Topics: Olympics 2012, United Kingdom

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Who could have anticipated this?

    Who would have been able to anticipate that the Olympics might put an added load on normal bandwidth requirements for the area? Probably anyone who understands modern telecom requirements - that's who. The titles are all wrong on these stories; instead of blaming Twitter, inadequate bandwidth is the cause.
    • Exactly

      Sounds like the same issues as we have the U.S., carriers are not increasing their bandwidth according to demand. They should have been able to setup some temporary cell sites to accomodate the additional bandwidth that they knew would end up being needed.
  • If I remember correctly Britain trashing the Vancouver games so now...

    is the time to trash the Brits.

    >> might consider only sending urgent updates," an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman was quoted

    Yea. Right. Just order everyone to stop. Lack of planning on their part doesn't constitute an emergency in everyone elses part.

    Moving on. If you are going to fill empty seats with troops, rather than "actually interested" public maybe you can select trops that are awake rather than ones with their heads back catching zzzzz's.

    Now moving on to the torch. Imagine restricting access to the torch saying "the torch is not a tourist attraction". Say what?? If the Brits had spent a bit of time watching (and learning) about things during the Vancouver Olympics they would have seen the barriers being moved closer to the torch so people could get their pictures taken in front of it. They would have seen the gallery added where people could take pictures without a fence in the way. Not a tourist attraction!!!!!! Congratulations guys.
    • Its Twitter's fault how?

      Failure stems from poor planning and execution by the OBS. The riders and broadcasters should have had their own private network for picking up vital telemetry.
      Tired Tech