Data issues expected during Olympics despite upgrades

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Group representing all mobile network operators in the UK claims huge investments will not stop customers experiencing delays for data

Spectators attending the 2012 London Olympics will experience delays when accessing data content on their mobile phones, according to a group representing all the UK mobile network operators.

This is despite significant investment and planning by the networks since the decision was made to award London the Games in 2005.

Three, O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere have shared the burden of erecting new masts around the Olympic sites to cope with the increased strain from the estimated half a million people each day expected to attend the month-long event.

O2 has already pumped more than £50 million into the event, which will take place for the most part in Stratford, east London.

O2 estimates 80 million mobile phone users will try to access services in 100 UK locations during the Games.

Vodafone said its commitment to invest more than £1 million a day on improving its network has been weighted towards the first half of 2012 to help it cope with demand.

Upgrades have also been accelerated in areas such as London’s Hyde Park, where a large influx of people is expected.

Vodafone said it expects data traffic during the Games to be like “England playing in the World Cup final on Christmas Day, every day, for 17 days.”

BT will also provide more than 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots around Olympic venues under a special version of its Openzone brand to help with demand.

But Stuart Newstead, a spokesperson for the Mobile Experience Group, a team put together to provide a voice for all UK operators as well as BT and Ofcom, said customers will still have to “queue” to get online during key moments.

Newstead told Mobile News: “We can’t say exactly how big demand’s going to be, but to give you an idea, at the last World Cup in South Africa when England scored a goal there was a 30 per cent spike in demand.

“More people have smartphones now and that was one goal on the other side of the world. This will be much bigger.”

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