Internet strains under the weight of Obama inauguration

While more than two million spectators watched US President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington DC yesterday, millions more surfed the internet for news and brought many sites to breaking point. The amount of people accessing videos, photos, “tweets” and text messages on sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace caused massive network failures and delays.

Some of the biggest US news sites including The New York Times, CNN, BBC, CBS, MSNBC and The Washington Post were reportedly down temporarily during the hours after the inauguration ceremony.

Streaming videos were slow and choppy, and often did not work at all. Traffic monitor Akamai claims worldwide internet traffic jumped more than 50%, while CNN says its site provided 18.8 million live video streams – a 13.3 million increase from its last record on the day of the US election.

Mobile networks such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon spent millions of dollars upgrading networks to deal with the millions of messages sent from spectators in Washington. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says the site experienced delays due to five times more traffic than usual.

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