Telstra hurdles mobile madness

Pressure on Telstra's network is expected to continue throughout the Games, with the closing ceremony and other key events likely to generate high demand.

"We expect our peak times to be the opening and closing ceremonies. There will also be substantial demand after events such as Cathy Freeman's, Ian Thorpe's and Susie O'Neill's races," a Telstra official said.

On Friday afternoon and evening, almost 500,000 mobile calls were connected in Sydney Olympic Park, Telstra has revealed.

The 125,000 calls connected inside Stadium Australia almost doubled the previous record set earlier this year at the Rugby Union Bledisloe Cup and resulted in almost 200,000 minutes of traffic.

Mobile traffic was running at "unprecedented levels", said Brian Pilbeam, Telstra's Olympic director. "At its peak, the stadium's mobile phone traffic levels accounted for more than 75 per cent of the Sydney CBD's average traffic," he said.

According to Anthony Goonan, Telstra OnAir NSW regional manager, most Telstra MobileNet customers would have only experienced a few minutes of minor congestion during the evening. "The peak traffic period came just before the ceremony began around six o'clock. Strong traffic was also experienced while the athletes marched into the stadium," he said.

Athletes including Kieren Perkins were among customers making calls during the march and ceremony.

As previously reported, Telstra invested $150 million in upgrading its mobile network at Olympic venues and throughout Sydney.

The organisation has also introduced new traffic monitoring technology, known as SeePower. SeePower was developed by New Zealand-based software development house Compudigm, and automatically tracks traffic on the Telstra network and compiles it in a Sybase IQ database. By using SeePower, Telstra can see where network congestion is occurring and configure the network accordingly.

Meanwhile, rival network providers C&W Optus and Vodafone also reported few network problems on Friday night. Despite millions of people being crammed into Sydney's CBD and Homebush Olympic Park, officials from both CWO and Vodafone claim no complaints were made on the night. Both carriers have recently upgraded their networks to cope with expected demand generated by the Olympics.

"All in all, (the CWO) coverage was very good," a CWO official said. "We were very happy with it . . . it exceeded expectations in a lot of areas, but we did experience occasional delays," she said.

A spokeswoman from Vodafone said no incidents were reported. "It went really well," she said.

Telstra is the official telecommunications provider for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

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