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UK mobile networks stretched by Happy New Year

As Big Ben struck midnight and 2013 began, a huge wave of personal messages swept through the UK's mobile networks. And yet, the networks survived. That's some serious infrastructure. KitGuru pulls out the TallyMan Pro and does some counting.

We've all had issues with mobile networks. The most common happens around sporting events – for example at top Premiership matches – where up to 100,000 people might all want to communicate with the world. For the mobile providers, that's a huge issue – because ALL of that traffic will be queuing up to hit the same access points.

New Year's Eve has a much bigger flow of traffic, but it's spread across the UK.

Sure, the side of the River Thames might have been a blackspot as the fireworks prepared to usher in the new day, but overall it was more evenly distributed.

So, the question remains, just how many messages are we talking about?

Vodafone has issued a statement to say that it's peak transfer was 12,000 text messages a second. If that was sustained, it would mean 1 message for every man, woman and child in the UK inside 90 minutes. Impressive.

Globally, the newly combined T-Mobile/Orange network (called EverythingEverywhere or EE for short), said it would be dealing with more than 300 million ‘Happy New Year' calls and more than 230 million texts with the same message.

You need to bear in mind that other messages (Twitter etc) sent will probably be cached up on the network's servers for a while (anti-terrorism etc), so how much data did EE carry?

According to its spokesman, the New Year's photos etc sent across EE will be enough to fill 230 1TB hard drives. Anyway you look at it, that's a lot of shots of drunk people falling down in pubs and toilets.

One thing that all of the networks were agreed on, was that data usage is up around 100% compared to 2 years ago. Given that mobile phone penetration hasn't increased by 100% in that time period – and the UK's population is about the same – then the blame for this increase mist be shared between (a) lower priced data plans from the networks and (b) better phone cameras encouraging us to shoot and send.

Happy New Year text messages peaked at 12,000 a second on Vodafone alone. That's a lot of auto-correct errors.

KitGuru says: As a side thought, given that New Year happens at night, we wonder if the increase in data usage might be linked to the number of phones that have a built in flash these days. Either way, it's a lot of data. In case we haven't said it already: HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM EVERYONE AT KITGURU!

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