The Olympics can be a major boon for the hosting city, bringing global attention and tourists to the economy... but it can also make things rather difficult from an infrastructure perspective. This year, there's a particular concern for how London's internet and mobile phone networks will hold up under the deluge of people streaming the games and tweeting up a storm throughout — there's even the possibility of data rationing, though it sounds like that option is unlikely to be used. James Blessing of Britain's Internet Service Providers Association said that "there is the potential for a massive hit on the infrastructure," while UK wireless carrier colorfully said "this summer it's going to be the equivalent of England playing in the World Cup final on Christmas Day, every day for the 17 days of the games."
The biggest potential contributor to these issues (not just in London but across the UK) is the BBC, which is planning to stream every event from the game live. The BBC is predicting that this will generate 1TB of traffic per second during peak hours, the equivalent of 1,500 people downloading a full-length DVD quality movie every minute. Down at Olympic Park, a Wi-Fi network with 1,800 access points is being built to keep the Olympic staff online, with an estimated 60GB of data moving across that network every second. And with an estimated crowd of 250,000 gathering every day at Olympic Park (including 80,000 in Olympic Stadium), getting mobile data service will likely be a challenge. At the very least, visitors should be able to get online while riding the London Underground.