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Michael Jackson's Death: An Eye-Opener for Internet Service Providers
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June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson's Death: An Eye-Opener for Internet Service Providers

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

TMC (News - Alert) President Rich Tehrani took the photo below with his iPhone 3G yesterday evening in Times Square, minutes after news of Michael Jackson’s untimely death swept the nation and world – just as members of our editorial, design and sales departments made our ways to Grand Central Station from a nearby colocation and interconnection networking event sponsored by Telx.

Naturally, news that the “King of Pop” had died of a heart attack swept up the nation and dominated Web sites, blogs, Web 2.0 discussion and network TV and cable news shows, just as it’s dominating headlines in the print editions of newspapers this morning.
From a human perspective, the tragedy strikes a particular chord for many of us who have marked certain parts of our lives by Jackson hits such those that came from 1982’s “Thriller” LP (for me, it was trying to moonwalk as well as Denny Cunningham during home room as an 8-year-old in Mrs. Rhett’s class at East School in New Canaan, Conn.)
From the perspective of Internet service providers, the sudden uptick in communications through the Web causes a major network strain – and, in this case, one company reports, a failure for many Web sites to operate as they usually do, becoming almost unavailable.
It’s an important topic from the point of view of companies that offer things like hosted VoIP services, especially virtual services, where the network forms the backbone of communications.
According to Shawn White, director of external operations at a San Mateo, Calif.-based company that seeks to improve the online experience with on-demand mobile and Internet test and measurement solutions, starting at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the average speed for downloading news sites doubled from less than four seconds to nearly nine seconds.
“During the same period, the average availability of sites on the index dropped from almost 100 percent to 86 percent,” said White, of Keynote Systems. “The index returned to normal by 9:15 p.m.”
Among other things, the statistics (animated by the Keynote-produced graphic below), point the rising need for companies such as Dynamic Network Services Incorporated, which – among other things – specializes in helping Web users get to their destination sites faster by setting up routing facilities in target markets.


The phenomenon also illustrates a growing problem for service providers, who are being asked, even in this down economy, to offer consumers more services and transmit heavier data, such as video, as well as next-generation voicemail and text-messaging, video sharing, conferencing and interactive voice response systems – and doing that across IP multimedia subsystem, NGN, 2G and 3G networks.
Even huge communications companies have problems when an event like Jackson’s death occurs. Consider that by late afternoon, the Web sites of major news media outlets – including ABC, AOL (News - Alert), the Los Angeles Times and CBS all started to show slowdowns in performance, Keynote said.
For many of us, today will involve remembering Jackson and his work. In the weeks ahead, the delays that many of these news sites saw yesterday will raise even more questions about how to tackle the problem of network overload effectively.

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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