Olympic Games + homeworking to break the internet?

Olympic Games + homeworking to break the internet?

A rather breathless article on the website of The Observer this weekend warned that the higher communications loads likely to result from the Olympic Games may lead to internet service providers slowing access speeds as a means of rationing access.

The report draws on Cabinet Office official advice to businesses about preparing for the Games, which extends also to encouraging businesses to allow people to work from home as a means of easing not only transport but also communications congestion, and also on a DfT pilot held last August - Operation Footfall - during which time staff reported the existence of 'connection problems'.

Of course, working from home will increase the overall load on communications networks, and it is important that businesses taking up the idea ensure that their IT networks can handle the additional strain of people accessing central servers remotely. Nevertheless, encouraging people to work from home is likely to ease congestion on those parts of the network close to Games venues, so is likely to be of assistance in those locations.

Elsewhere, it is possible that people may well see slower speeds - as is normal in, for example, the evenings when a greater amount of people are online - but it is rather unlikely that the conjunction of the Games and higher numbers of Londoners and south-easterners working from home will crash the internet entirely. Or by the large number of people likely to be tweeting their way through events, as the piece on ThinkBroadband (generally a much more technically astute piece) succinctly pointed out.

The DfT has this week launched Operation StepChange - a week-long pilot across more than a dozen government departments in which people will be encouraged to work from home - as a means of testing the state of preparation for the Games. Other departments will be testing their plans at a later date. Overall, the plan is to reduce all central government travel in central London by 50% during the period from 21 July to 9 September.

Prospect members involved in this week's pilot, or any of the later ones, that experience problems in working from home, or have concerns about it, should let the union know by the usual channels.

Posted: 8 February 2012