Texts and tweets mess up Olympic cycling coverage

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
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

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.

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