Akamai has spent the last year building up its network capacity in anticipation of global Internet traffic hitting a record high due to the World Cup, which gets under way this Friday, according to an AP article this morning. Akamai believes the availability of higher-quality video streams — either HD or 3-D — and a global audience will help set the record. From the article:
It [Akamai] expects traffic to be two or three times as heavy as what was measured during President Barack Obama’s inauguration — thus far, the high point for traffic volume at about 1 terabit, or 1 trillion bits of data, per second. (Higher-quality video is also a major factor in boosting volume.)
“It could well be another watershed event in terms of people understanding what is now possible to do with video online,” Akamai Chief Scientist Tom Leighton said. “This will draw a lot of people at once and that will cause people to be aware en masse that, hey, you can do some very cool things with video online that you can’t even do with broadcast right now.”
Indeed, sports consumption helps drive technological progress and sell higher-end gadgets in a way that Best Buy ads do not. Pundits are also excited about the prospect of the World Cup boosting mobile television, although they admit that overall adoption will still remain small. NewTeeVee has published a complete list on where top watch the World Cup both online and on your phone.
For this year’s World Cup, the story won’t be around mobile or online television adoption driving up overall Internet traffic, but around how people interact with all forms of World Cup data — be it on a PC or a big-screen TV. Sporting events are great for side-by-side trash talking via Twitter or linking to your Facebook friends — all elements of social TV (GigaOM Pro sub req’d). Given how much people love their televisions and how comfortable many of us are with broadband-enabled social media, new applications and services for people to connect while they watch the World Cup could be the event’s real winners.