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Will World Cup Streaming Cause Internet Meltdown? 312

MetaNick writes "It seems with every worldwide sporting event, e.g., Olympics, World Cup, we hear warnings of a "meltdown" as more and more broadband users attempt to stream video of the event to their browsers. And such predictions have just begun for the World Cup just getting underway: World Cup streaming to cause network meltdown, World Cup by broadband endangers networks. Has this ever really happened? Will it happen with this the World Cup just getting underway? I tend to doubt it. I looked for articles discussing how predictions of meltdowns did NOT come to pass, but I couldn't find any."
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Will World Cup Streaming Cause Internet Meltdown?

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  • No. Who asks these questions anyways?
    • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spad ( 470073 )
      People who like to drum up a bit of publicity for themselves by fearmongering every time anything happens that might result in a bit more net traffic than usual.

      Personally, I'll be watching all the 2pm-kickoff matches from work courtesy of the BBC and I suspect that somehow both the connection and the BBC site will stand up to the strain.
      • Ahh good old NHS.
      • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nasheer ( 179086 )
        "People who like to drum up a bit of publicity for themselves by fearmongering every time anything happens that might result in a bit more net traffic than usual."

        One should not believe it is bandwidth-related only. I bet you all still remember the chaos and panic the media reported about the Y2K bug. It's all about doom, plain and simple, no matter what it is about.

        Asteroids that may collide and extinguish life on Earth, a computer bug that will throw us all back to the middle ages, a World Cup that will c
      • Re:Common Sense (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
        People who like to drum up a bit of publicity for themselves by fearmongering every time anything happens that might result in a bit more net traffic than usual.

        This time it might actually happen. More people follow the World Cup than all those other events combined. Football (soccer in the USA where the ball is in more contact with hands than feet and goes by the same name) is the world sport.

        Personally, I'll be watching all the 2pm-kickoff matches from work courtesy of the BBC and I suspect that so

    • Re:Common Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:10PM (#15475902) Journal
      No. Who asks these questions anyways?

      Alarmist news sells. Whether it be about cars, credit cards, or global warming, news sources try to make it as sensational and alarming as possible because it gets the ratings/hits and ad/commercial views.

      What sounds more interesting?

      Online coverage of World Cup predicted to cause increase in bandwidth usage across the globe.


      OMG! The "other" football is going to make teh Interweb MELT! Run for the hills! Details at 10.
    • Re:Common Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flooey ( 695860 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:17PM (#15475957)
      No. Who asks these questions anyways?

      Well, considering the only guy quoted by both articles is a manager for a company that sells packet shaping systems...
      • ... so you're saying he's astroturfing [] to generate demand for the systems he sells?
        • Astroturfing, by definition, is "fake grass roots" -- when a company gets people to write or post opinions on the company's behalf while claiming to be independent citizens. The articles noted that the source of this information are company representatives. So the company reps are acknowledging that the information comes from the company; this is not astroturfing. Astroturfing would be 5 guys writing letters to the editor saying "we're network guys, and we think bad things are going to happen unless peop
      • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Informative)

        by timeOday ( 582209 )
        Well, considering the only guy quoted by both articles is a manager for a company that sells packet shaping systems...
        Bummer. I would be much happier if it were astroturfing from a fiber or router company wanting to install more bandwidth, not traffic shaping. I want my ISP to spend my subscription money on building a faster network, not on implementing complex, opaque rationing schemes. Bandwidth is not a scarce natural resource, it's cheap.
  • I am truly amazed with this marvelous technology. Watching tv via cable!? Whoda thunk!
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToyImp ( 972667 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:03PM (#15475839) Homepage
    I don't see anything like this happening for a long time. Television is still widely used. Only thing people watch that is streamed over the net is... well use your imagination.. And its not barney..
    • Re:Nope (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is it the wiggles?
    • Re:Nope (Score:2, Funny)

      by Dhar ( 19056 )
      And its not barney..

      Maybe not for you...

    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:38PM (#15476129)
      The difference here is that many of these games will be on at 2pm, when many people are at work with no television. The World Cup is hugely popular, and I am sure there will be a huge amount of demand for watching the BBC live streams.

      Of course, the internet won't 'melt down', but this will surely be the biggest test for the BBC's live video streaming abilities so far.
      • Re:Nope (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nasheer ( 179086 )
        I can almost see the lines:

        "World Cup event will cause shortage on electromagnetic waves, due to the high amount of TV devices turned on at the same time.

        The massive number of TVs turned on for the upcoming World Cup will cause electromagnetic waves to be drained by billions of antennas worldwide. Specialists affirm that the huge demand for signal will suck up the waves from the transmitting antennas in the TV stations, causing an overload on those towers. 'Those circuits will eventually burn to ashes' says
    • Especially considering that even if people DO start watching the world cup over the internet (which a bunch of companies have been all up in arms about), they won't be watching anything else.

      Besides, it's the internet. It can take it.
  • No (Score:2, Funny)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 )
    There won't be much streaming going on since most Americans don't know what this whole "World Cup" thing is about.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fatchap ( 752787 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:11PM (#15475906)
      Becuase America is the only place that has this "Internet" right?
    • But Eric the King says, "America, the world no longer looks forward to playing you." :)
    • Re:No (Score:2, Insightful)

      by colin_daly ( 560853 )
      yeah why is it called the "World Cup" anyways I mean its not a truly international event like ... the "World Series"
    • Re:No (Score:4, Funny)

      by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <> on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:25PM (#15476427)
      Yes in this context the "World Cup" is actually inviting the "World" to attend, unlike the US version of "World" where sometimes, if they are lucky, Canadians are invited.
  • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 )
    Probably not... Even if it did, there's a good chance it would be localized to everywhere besides the United States, because we just don't "get" watching soccer.
  • Misleading titles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kjones692 ( 805101 ) <the DOT cyborganizer AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:04PM (#15475850)
    If the submitter had bothered to RTFA (I know, I know, "You must be new here") he would see that these articles are about local networks being brought down by lots of users trying to stream World Cup footage at the same, not an "Internet meltdown".

    Whether such a meltdown is even possible is another question entirely, but one not covered by these articles.
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:35PM (#15476095) Homepage Journal
      Sprint suffered a cascading router failure in and around their transatlantic gateway some time back - Augustish 1995, I think - which caused an almost total outage between the UK and the US for a period of about two weeks. That's the only prolonged failure of any significance that I can remember.

      For temporary slow-downs, certainly major events cause problems, and most of those are indeed caused by streaming. More specifically, unicast streaming. If streaming was predominatly multicast, there would be no meaningful load imposed, no matter how many people had broadband.

    • They said the exact same thing about March Madness. They had one good idea: set up projectors in the break/lunch room and play the streams there. Then your employees have less cause to (1) waste bandwidth streaming video to every desk (2) goof off during non-work hours.

      But really, are we gonna see one of these articles during every major sporting event now?
    • If the submitter had bothered to RTFA (I know, I know, "You must be new here") he would see that these articles are about local networks being brought down by lots of users trying to stream World Cup footage at the same, not an "Internet meltdown". Whether such a meltdown is even possible is another question entirely

      Let's think logically.

      First, I doubt Internet is capable of "meltdown", but apaprently it's capable of "blowing concerns out of proportions" on various popular blogs and news sites.

      If a pipe get
  • by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:04PM (#15475852)
    if porn doesn't choke the internet, no sport ever will!
  • I'd have to guess that a distributed streaming system is a long way off in being possible, since timely delivery is crucial, and people further away from downloading from the source would not be getting the data fast enough in real time.

    That being the case, what's a possible way to lessen the load on streaming servers, and to distribute the file transfers onto networks and users who are interested in the content they are downloading or helping to distribute?
    • I'd have to guess that a distributed streaming system is a long way off in being possible, since timely delivery is crucial, and people further away from downloading from the source would not be getting the data fast enough in real time.

      Regular Internet streaming has ~10 seconds of buffering; would it make that much of a difference if P2P streaming had 30-60 seconds of buffering?

      There is a lot of academic research about P2P live streaming: Yoid, ESM, TMesh, SplitStream, Bullet, Chainsaw, etc. A company call
  • BBC Coverage Online (Score:4, Informative)

    by nbannerman ( 974715 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:05PM (#15475859)
    Well, the BBC is using multicast [] to stream matches out to UK based residents.

    Multicast is perfect for this kind of situation, and I don't think we'll see a 'meltdown' because of it.
  • Unlikely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by David Horn ( 772985 ) <david@pocketga[ ].org ['mer' in gap]> on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:06PM (#15475860) Homepage
    I think the closest we've been to an internet meltdown is the July 7th bombings in London.

    The BBC's website was practically unusable and as far as I know they limited streaming video to UK citizens. I find it doubtful that the BBC feels they have sufficient capacity to knock out internet across the whole country.

    What do I know, anyway? I can't stand bloody football!
    • Re:Unlikely (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Scorchio ( 177053 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:52PM (#15476222)
      Reminds me of an idle Tuesday afternoon (UK time) back in September 2001, when yet another refresh of the /. homepage brought up a curious story about a plane in the side of a building. First thoughts were "some kind of silly advertising stunt with a giant inflatable?", but the unbelievable summary suggested otherwise. Slashdot was taking forever to load the story, so I tried BBC news... and then Sky news, then CNN, and several other news sites, finding that they were all extremely slow. Finally, we tracked down a tv set in the office and learned the full extent of the events occurring in NY. That's as close to a meltdown as I've seen, although that's probably more those particular news sites being swamped, rather than the entire net grinding to a halt.

      As popular as football is, I doubt that you'll get that many people all hammering the internet simultaneously to create a full meltdown.
  • I for my part would LOVE to participate in the actual meltdown test - unfortunately it looks like I won't be able to: since the rights are handled regionally, and nobody in my region (Italy*) streams it, I'll be left out.


    * That's soccercrazy Italy, for god's sake!!
  • The world cup is only slightly, slightly more destructive.

    I think it will be fine.
    Music should be free []
  • If the streaming servers can handle all the users request there will be a meltdown.
    If there is a meltdown then the streaming servers cannot handle the user requests.

  • Even if this were a danger, which it isn't, the server hosts/broadcasters would adapt by adopting a Bittorrent-style system to distribute the load. Even if they don't use something like Bittorrent, I imagine they're using Akami (sp? I mean the big provider of distributed hosting) or something like it.

    Hell, pirated copies of the World Cup games are going to operate like this anyway. I'm sure The Pirate Bay has many busy days in front of it.

  • by Araxen ( 561411 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:16PM (#15475947)
    99% of the USA doesn't even care(free's up a ton of bandwith) about the World Cup of Soccer so I highly doubt the Internet is suddenly going to implode.
    • While I certainly am not arguing that there will be a meltdown - I doubt the increased demand will be felt on sites not involved in the world cup, and I'm pretty sure the overall traffic will pale in comparison to the traffic caused by P2P networks - the fact that US citizens aren't interested in it doesn't help much. Free bandwidth within and towards the US isn't a whole lot of help to people, e.g., in Europe whose network is hosed/overloaded. But like I said, it ain't happening.
    • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @02:23AM (#15477854) Homepage
      99% of the USA doesn't even care

      Which is sad really, considering your team is currently ranked 5th in the world by FIFA. Instead you go mad over "world series" of games that noone else plays.

  • by slashbob22 ( 918040 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:16PM (#15475950)
    Has it happened?
    Yes! - In 1999 - Victoria Secret Provided a live streaming version of their fashion show. There were many individuals who couldn't connect to that site, and there were reports of other non-Related bandwidth issues related to the multicasting.

    There are a few things going in the WC's favour. The highlights won't be broadcast live - so that there is time to get content to mirrors. There are also staggered releases across the globe. I suspect we'll see bandwidth slowdowns as you go further down the network tiers. The bigger problem I see with this goes back to the tiered Internet structure. This will be a perfect opportunity for the network providers to complain about bandwidth costs!
  • film at 11.

    It's been predicted for decades, whenever the latest new/big even comes along.
  • I wonder how much extra bandwith wil be used, incremental to the load bittorrent (and other p2p technologies) has on the internet. There are so many technological enthousiasts pumping everthing they have through those internet wires, I wonder how much the global traffic would rise. I remember bittorrent taking up about 30% of the total global load or something.

    But then again, bittorrent is kinda distributed all over the world, and without smart mirrors streaming the world cup data this might saturate key p
  • Who provides live streaming of worldcup in US? Does that include all the matches? Where is it? Do tell.
    • There has been quite a bit of discussion about "where to find streams" over at Most of the qualifying matches have been available to watch live online from Chinese and Israeli websites, but most of the "pirate" streaming sites require you to dl weird, Windows-only software to be able to watch the games, so as a Mac user I haven't been able to.
      I bought my first TV and got cable just to be able to watch the World Cup this year. It's a great event.
  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:23PM (#15476010) Journal

    Yes. But that's OK because Slashdot looks like crap now and nobody is going to use it. It should all balance out.

  • If only you could really use that [].
  • by knardi ( 974311 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @06:32PM (#15476069)
    This reminds me of the "power crisis" in California 7 or 8 years ago in which hundreds of power companies agreed to simulate brownouts in order to effectively hold energy to ransom, and raise energy prices to the insane amount that they are at today in California. Of course, many power companies went bankrupt in the resulting aftermath of legislation, but the big ones survived and profit from the scandal to this day.

    What if these predictions are meant to set up a huge telecommunications breakdown on the day of the World Cup? Then AT&T and the Bells, et al., all simulate 100% traffic simulation on their networks, and "crash" their systems. Then they can say, "I told you so. Vote no on Net Neutrality so that the Internet keeps working," and effectively hold the Internet up for ransom. They may lose money in the short term, but they'd gain complete oligarchical control over the Internet.

    The possibility really does scare me.
  • I doubt most Americans know, much less care, that they have a team in the World Cup or even what the World Cup is. So the rest of the Internet may melt down but not here in the good ole US of A.
    • > I doubt most Americans know, much less care, that they have a team in the World Cup or
      > even what the World Cup is.

      Some of us do know but still don't care. One pro sport is just as boring and pointless as another.
    • Well whaddya know! They're back again [], and looking good for a nice early knockout by Brazil or Italy [], one of which will also knock us [] out if we somehow scrape our way to the semis.

      With two of the world's major internet countries making such an early exit, I'd be rejecting the idea of a meltdown even if it wasn't just a piece of ignorant sensationalist trash.

  • For popular live events, nothing can beat RF (radio/tv). It's broadcast. Until we can figure out how to make a secure and smooth multicast enabled, Internet RF will continue to perform better. For niche interest, the Internet is a perfect conduit. It's when something becomes too popular the economics start to breakdown. Companies like Akamai help with this by providing streaming servers all over the world in important peer points.

    FYI, for people in North America, XM Satellite Radio is broadcasting Worl
  • This will be a stress test for both mobile and internet networks, as many mobile providers in Oz offer on-line video and updates, many ISPs offer streaming, not to mention the talk. I live in Melbourne Oz and this would have the biggest soccer following anywhere in Australia, so I'd guess that making calls in some areas will be impossible, and the 'net should get a little jerky.
  • Hell Yeah! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dwalsh ( 87765 )
    Last Olympics, it was very obvious.

    You'd be browsing some porn site, and the chicks nipples would be down around her ankles. Next thing you know her face was melting. Then you'd be on Slashdot, and someone would be half-way through dissing M$ for something and they'd trail off "... so ... a hell, I'm off for a lemonade, this too darn hot in here". Serious Tennessee Williams shit goin' on!
  • I remember when the first version of Big Brother aired(a couple of years before it came to America), most company internet lines were small. And so, since I worked as a consultant on firewalls at the time, I spent a lot of time driving around to many companies to insert block rules.
    Today it is not much of a problem, although I can imagine that the world cup could cause problems. Tour de France does generate a lot of streaming traffic because that also is going on during work hours.
  • Maybe a system where a user could pay more money for a special tier for the guaranteed delivery of packets. Hmmm ... rolls eyes.

    I had a feeling the telecom industry probably had something to do with the article until I read it was written by someone with ties to a packet shaping company.
  • How about "broadband telcos' shabby internetworking and bandwidth oversubscription melts down when customers consume what they paid for during World Cup"?

    Not as snappy a headline. I'd make a better one if telcos paid me the marketing budget that produced the headline on this story.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @07:22PM (#15476411)
    1. If you see a big bright mushroom of smoke rise outside your window, stop immediately streaming video.
    2. If it doesn't work, stop also downloading pr0n and war3z through p2p.
    3. If it still doesn't work, duck a-a-and cover.
    4. Don't forget to turn on your pr0n and war3z downloads as soon as its over, or severe health and brain damage effects might manifestate.
  • I worked a bit with proxies and live streaming, and one of the problems that could keep the traffic down were proxies doing splitting of the live streams. I don't know where that market is today but at one time there was an idea that the ISP / phone company would have proxies at their PoP's and do splitting there of live streams so that all people connected to that PoP would share the same stream out.
    There were a couple of problems with that. First of all that it was hard to find a business models that woul
  • anyways ?? So if we try to use our bw to the fullest, will it cause a meltdown ?

    So what are these telcos trying to say - that they were guaranteeing us bandwidth they would never be able to provide ?

    Was it "sweet profits", "easy money", "yet-not-defined scam" ?
  • Although multicast will scale up enough for one user to support millions. But..if the Backbone providers could get multicast streams of the video and then let ISP's pick up those feeds, then the ISP's could multicast them to their networks.

    Thus providing nice bandwidth friendly video.....meanwhile back in the real world :(
  • I would love to stream the WC into my box at work. We have the T3 bandwidth for it, too. But I couldn't do it four years ago, and I won't be able to this year either. The teevee/video rights to geographical areas are sold by FIFA for megabucks to the various networks world wide, and the @#$R%T^ swine just don't allow any internet streaming. Last time, I found one feed streaming video, with commentary in Portugese (who cares,eh?), but it was pretty bad to start with and after a couple of days lots of folk

  • ...brought down the streaming Bigpond website that was meant to be able to show it to people who registered (office workers, presumably). However, there was such a demand for the two-minute race that the site was down for most of the day, and from memory, access was troubling the day before. We ended up watching it at work on a 12cm black and white portable television.

    The World Cup is a lot larger then the Melbourne Cup (one bloody so-called 'legendary' horse aside - forget its name), so unless streaming si

"'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." -- Poloniouius, in Willie the Shake's _Hamlet, Prince of Darkness_