23 January 2009

Obama’s inauguration caused record-breaking streaming video traffic online. CNN more than quadrupled its previous record of 5.3 million streams set on the US’s election day in November. The online news service delivered 25 million live video streams between 6 am and 6 pm, peaking at 1.3 million users just prior to Obama’s address.
However, millions around the world were unable to access the historical event because of websites unable to cope with the traffic. Several sites were slow or inaccessible for many users due to the interest in Obama’s inauguration.
Twitter’s feed was flooded by nearly 100 people per second and the internet’s top 40 websites slowed by as much as 60 percent by the time the inauguration began.
This was a seminal moment in internet history but it is imperative internet organisations have the means to foresee peaks in traffic to cater for their users. This can be achieved by tracking and monitoring peaks, then forecasting an increase in bandwidth.
You must give your customers the highest level of web experience so they keep coming back. A high return rate boosts your rankings in Google while dissatisfied customers have a negative effect. On slow or inaccessible websites users simply head to different sites and find the same service elsewhere.
Back across the pond our own government is guaranteeing 2Mb broadband for every household by 2012 in a daft (sorry draft) report by Lord Carter. The report states that 40% of British households don’t have access to broadband, giving them no hope of witnessing Obama’s inauguration online. It also claims that 2Mb by 2012 will boost the economy through the communications sector and ease the amount the UK relies on finance.

There are immediate problems with this strategy:

1. By 2012 an offering of 2Mb broadband won’t be enough to facilitate the download or streaming of the media available online.
2. What if the main reason 40% are without broadband is that they don’t have, don’t want, or can’t afford a computer?

Why doesn’t the government consider subsidising broadband packages from internet suppliers like Virgin Media, Sky or BT for those who do want it and/or put money just into strengthening the country’s broadband infrastructure where broadband is not yet available?

Investing in internet infrastructure is of massive benefit to countless individuals and businesses the world over. However, this draft report completely appears to miss the point, wasting both time and tax-payer’s money.

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