Wednesday, June 23, 2010

England v Slovenia - a good test for UK broadband?


An interesting article on ThinkBroadband on whether the UK's broadband architecture is able to cope with the likely online demand for today's England World Cup match:
"We are currently in the midst of an excellent test for how the UK's broadband network can hold up in the face of huge demand for video content with the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Budget announcement all streamed live online. Yesterday, business ISP Timico saw the budget set a new record high for video usage online, up 309% over their average, and this afternoon could top that still with the nation tuning in to watch England take on Slovenia in our final group game of the World Cup...The average latency has quadrupled from around 28ms to approximately 120ms at peak World Cup time...Users affected may see streamed video occasionally breaking up or freezing from packet loss and websites would be slower to load due to the higher latency."
Bandwidth statistics from LONAP (London Access Point, a Layer-2 Internet Exchange Point) showed traffic peaking at close to 32Gbps after the match kicked off at 1500. From where I'm sitting, the performance of the BBC's online coverage is quite impressive, with a few fits and starts but watchable, albeit behind the TV broadcast. The gap is increasing as I type; for example, the clock on the online stream now shows 38:55 while the one on the TV broadcast shows 39:44, so the lag has increased significantly from when I started watching. It would be interesting to see all the links in the delivery chain to understand where and how this lag occurs.

But the connectivity I'm enjoying while I'm typing this is hardly typical; I wonder how well it's working for others?

Update 24 June 2010: the BBC have published this article on the impact of the game, reporting that "UK internet traffic rose by almost a third during England's crucial World Cup match against Slovenia". An extract:
"Figures released by internet service provider KC suggest that the game triggered a 31% jump in web traffic, as users watched the game via the BBC's live online stream. Early figures suggest the total number of 'concurrent streams' peaked at 800,000 although the total number of viewers will be many times higher. The BBC said this was a viewing record. Concurrent streams is the peak number of people who were watching or listening at any given point during the game. It is not the same at the total number of unique users, which is considerably higher. A spokesman for the BBC said the figure was a very early estimate, a more accurate figure would be released in the next 24 hours."
The BBC also reference this analysis from Akamai, who report that "the 2010 World Cup is shaping up to be a major Internet milestone event", and there's further commentary from the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones on his blog. And here's the current bandwidth graph from LONAP illustrating yesterday's traffic:

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