‘Most Digital Ever’ Olympics Will Go Large On Mobile

London 2012 Olympics

The London 2012 Olympics is planning a significant mobile infrastructure roll-out for both the public and for bandwidth-hungry visiting media – but will eschew “bleeding-edge” mobile content for mass appeal.

Alex Balfour, new media head for the Games’ organising committee told Mobile Entertainment Market ’09 Vancouver 2010 will trial Samsung’s “Wireless Olympic Works“, a 3G info service that only Olympic officials used in Athens and Beijing, with the public for the first time at 2012: “Assuming that’s successful, it may be an interesting deployment for us, we’re in very early discussion around that.”

Balfour is planning a mobile roll-out around “results, mapping and wayfinding and transactions” – the latter around signing up volunteers, torch runners and ticket buyers. And 2012 hopes to “optimise people’s use of mobile phones in a mass-scale event over a short period” – for example, by granting mobile networks access to “temporary masts” to deliver audio and video from rightsholders. “In the UK, the BBC has an expectation to put all 4,500 hours of the games on the internet – that will presumably involve delivering to mobile … We’ll have 14,000 users connected to a dedicated network, it has to be deployed at a service level that’s way, way above anything you’d expect from a normal service because it has to have 100 percent uptime.”

2012 communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle said new tech may be showcased by sponsors but: “There’s a perception that everyone will be walking down Oxford Street watching the 100 metres final on their mobile phone … Lots of people get very excited about bleeding-edge technology and what can be used … bleeding-edge doesn’t have an opportunity in the core games because the media has to be reliable, tested and tried…” “We have to use technology that will have the greatest impact.” If that sounds like a lost opportunity, it’s not necessarily, because the committee’s role is to deliver the games themselves, leaving digital experiments to broadcast rightsholders like BBC and sponsors like Adidas.

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