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Tips for using your phone at the Olympics

How is the Olympics being affected by mobile users?

It would appear that the nicknaming the London 2012 Olympics the ‘social media Games’ is wholly appropriate considering the way mobile usage has transformed in the last four years alone. With mobile services having become more prevalent than ever and the millions of people now filling the Olympic park tweeting and posting to Facebook minute by minute, it’s in fact reached the point where Olympic officials are asking that spectators try and restrain themselves from social sharing due to the adverse effects on networks and in some cases the events themselves.

July 30, 2012, 1pm

Olympic Stadium

Social Networking

Nearly every action carried out by a mobile user has likely been put on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook somewhere at some point, but talk of banning photos and videos captured at the Olympics making it to your favourite social networks have been heavily discussed.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) originally stated that people, ‘may not licence, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet, ‘ but didn’t at the time offer any clarification as to who this affected.

It has since transpired that the ‘Joe Public’ shouldn’t worry about such rulings in this instance as discovered by ITProPortal. The statement in question is designed to affect those intending to capitalise on their attendance at the Olympics in a commercial capacity. For example, if a staff member from a local pub were to tweet a photo of Usain Bolt with talk of their ‘Olympic meal deal’, then LOCOG have every right to get involved, but the millions of spectators planning on attending, shouldn’t worry if they just want to share their Olympic experiences with friends.

Interestingly, football fans planning on attending matches at the City of Coventry Stadium during the Olympics have been requested not to share any photos or videos using Facebook and Twitter, but this is the exception to the majority of cases.

UPDATE 30/1/12: Reuters are saying that a spokesperson from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a plea in an attempt to discourage people from tweeting following technical difficulties at the men’s cycling road race last Saturday. “Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘Don’t, you can’t do it’, and we would certainly never prevent people, it’s just – if it’s not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy, ” they said.

Commentators ran into trouble when they were unable to tell viewers where the race leader was, based on GPS interference thrown up by heavy use of mobile phones by spectators along the route. When viewers tweeted in frustration at the poor commentary, they were in fact exacerbating the situation.

3G-WiFi Hotspots

The most recent inclusion, or rather exclusion are WiFi Hotspots. Many users have a card, dongle or MiFi-style device with which they can unfurl a small-scale WiFi network for devices to connect to, but that looks to be an absolute ‘no no’ in the eyes of the IOC, who have now added ‘wireless access points’ and ‘3G hubs’ to the list of prohibited items during the Olympics. Mobile users will have to make do with navigating the web via their individual devices as sharing a hotspot will be at your own risk.

Although the network operators have spent thousands of pounds upgrading their networks, at peak times it’s highly likely the network will be overloaded. If this occurs you can try swapping to a WiFi hotspot.

O2 are helping connect the city by supplying public WiFi networks for key retail areas throughout the city, in locations such as Oxford Circus and Kensington. After an initial signup process, users will then be able to connect at any of these hotspots for free, even if they’re not on O2.

Virgin Media has also brought WiFi to the London Underground, although you can only get online in a station – not in tunnels.


Various Olympic venues have voiced concerns or are now enforcing bans surrounding the use of cameras for still or video purposes within their grounds, but where do they draw the line? It’s worth checking beforehand if you plan on attending a specific venue, but for the most part, any ‘professional-style camera’ seems to be deemed unacceptable without media accreditation. The rule of thumb for the majority of Olympic events, as discovered by, is that camera and body combined cannot exceed 30 cms in length and kit bags cannot exceed 25 litres in capacity.

To play it safe, stick to using a compact camera or your phone’s imaging capabilities if you’re unsure. Such rules will likely affect Nokia 808 PureView owners the least as 41-megapixels and 1080p HD video recording should be enough to cover your media capturing needs at the Games without causing any trouble.


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