Akamai: Rio Olympics 2016

Internet_map_1024_-_transparent,_invertedThe recently concluded Rio Olympics 2016 in Brazil saw an explosion of data being transferred all over the world. Many companies have contributed to moving data from ground zero to their respective network channels for the worldwide coverage. Akamai is one of the perennial movers of data.

Since the early 1990s, when they transferred data at speeds of 1Gbps to the present, Akamai uses multiple methods and channels to deliver data better and faster. The recipients then and now, include the mix of network channels and internet service providers. The evolution of transfer speeds has always outpaced the development of mobile and viewing devices to utilise the fastest speed available.

The Olympics presented a unique challenge for Akamai to solve. Sports fans will always seek to have access to content around the clock, be it with news updates, live streams or video on demand. They will be using a myriad of viewing devices; from smart TVs to tablets and smartphones. Regardless of the devices used, they expect to be connected without interruption and will prefer to experience in high quality. Across the 43 Rights Holding Broadcasters, Akamai served a variety of different bit-rate profiles – from 150k to 7.5 Mbps. Bit-rates at the higher-end delivered were up to 1080p.

Traditionally, the Olympics run for 16 days, excluding the opening ceremony. In the first three days of Rio, Akamai delivered more video traffic than for all 17 days of London in 2012. On the sixth day, Akamai’s video traffic topped London and Sochi games combined, while on Saturday, August 20th, Akamai delivered more video data for Rio than it did for the 2014 World Cup, making this summer’s games the largest live sporting event that Akamai has helped deliver. The highest traffic peak was driven by women’s team gymnastics on August 9, followed by men’s sprint finals on August 14 and men’s 4×100 medley relay on August 11. Each of these games peaked at more than one million concurrent viewers. In the United States alone, viewers had streamed over 2 billion minutes of video in the first week of the Olympics.[1]

Akamai’s VP, Product Management Corey Halverson, was quoted by VideoNuze that he anticipated potential peak of  15Tbps, compared to the London Olympics’ 873Gbps.
In fact, there was a 533% increase of speed, from 873Gbps to 4.54 Tbps. The average bit-rate or speed of data transfer have also increased, from 1.2Mbps at London Olympics to 1.8Mbps[2] at Sochi Winter Olympics to 2.75Mbps at Rio Olympics. The Akamai network ability can be said to surpass expectations. Akamai was able to overcome the technological challenges of enabling millions of concurrent stream across all major streaming formats.



Akamai Rio Olympics
Deep learning, cognitive computing and quantum computers have been written as the major trends in the future. We all can take a collective breath as we anticipate the challenges that Akamai will help businesses to overcome.
  1. Akamai
  2. Presentation by John Sconyers, Vice President, Cloud Services Partners, Akamai Technologies,”Serving Olympic Proportion Traffic: When Failure is Not an Option” https://engage.acquia.com/sites/default/files/serving_olympic_sized_.pdf


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