Royal wedding coverage: how O2 will cope with Will and Kate mania

Bunting The royal wedding is a big day for Prince William and Kate Middleton, not to mention royal-watchers and celeb-spotters, but it’ll also be a huge occasion for O2, with mobile phones firing off more texts, consuming more data and sending more picture messages than usual in the capital as huge crowds descend on the city. How will O2 cope? With a brilliant plan…


O2’s network experts predict that 300,000 extra O2 customers will descend on London for the royal wedding with each of them making at least one 60 second phone call, sending four SMS or MMS messages and sending or receiving at least one e-mail. That all adds up, and those numbers will make the royal wedding this year’s biggest event for O2.

By comparison, the 2011 London Marathon saw 43,333 more O2 customers flood in central London than usual, and 155 cells in use. The royal wedding will see six times as many O2 customers in town and 283 cells in use.

O2 is used to handling major events, and is already putting the network capacity in place to ensure customers can connect with their friends and family to share the royal wedding excitement.

The team that handles big sporting events, like Wimbledon and the FA Cup final or huge music festivals, will spring into action on April 29.

O2 has been working on a strategy for the royal wedding since William announced he’d popped the question. The O2 network in London has been upgraded recently and is ready to handle the extra traffic royal watchers will throw at it.

To handle all that extra chattering, messages and data O2 is paying particular attention to Westminster Abbey (where the wedding takes place), Buckingham Palace (where the couple will appear on the balcony) and the procession route. Additional mobile cells will be positioned in St James’ Park and Hyde Park to expand capacity.

And to make sure things are speedy, O2‘s got another advantage in London: it’s the only UK operator using the 900 MHz spectrum for 3G data in the capital, which means it has more capacity for customers to enjoy.

While the rest of the country will be tuned into the royal wedding, the O2 Network Management Centre will be fully staffed, keeping a beady eye on the network in those unusually busy areas of central London.

O2 has also declared a “Service Protection Period” from 8am on April 28 (the day before the wedding) until 10pm on April 30. That means there’ll be no network maintenance or changes going on besides emergency repairs, to ensure that wedding fans get solid service throughout the national celebrations.

Keeping those mobile cells up and running and super-efficient is a tricky task, but O2 has a crack team of field engineers and customer experience experts who will be on the ground to monitor how well the network is performing, and deal with any issues.

But what about sudden surges in usage? Just as half-time during a major football match sees a jump in network traffic as people make a cuppa and send a text, the moment when the happy couple kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony will see a huge flurry of MMS messages and tweets from the crowd below.

O2 will also need to handle waves of data moving through London at various points during the day too, including early in the morning before the 11am ceremony when a nervous Kate Middleton travels along The Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and Parliament Square before reaching Westminster Abbey. And then there’s the “I do moment” to consider…

As well as coping with customers sending tweets, pictures, videos, emails and texts, O2 will also have to handle massive amounts of streaming. This royal wedding ceremony is the first to be streamed on YouTube and many people in the crowds will fire up the BBC and Sky News apps on their smartphone to stay informed.

Whatever your plans for the royal wedding day, whether you’re heading for London or staying at home, O2’s network team will have you covered with rock solid service.

Let us know your royal wedding plans in the comments section below. Are you planning on taking a trip to London to soak up the atmosphere? Or will you be staying put and tweeting from the comfort of your living room?

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