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World Cup by broadband endangers networks

BBC imposes penalty on UK PLC

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Fresh from been accused of creating optical damage to viewers as a result of presenter Kate Silverton's psychedelic blouse, the BBC is being charged with jeopardising corporate networks, and by implication the UK economy.

The British broadcaster plans to offer broadband-connected office workers the chance to watch World Cup games at their desks. The move risks bringing corporate networks to a halt, warns network management firm Packeteer, in what we suspect will be the first in a string of announcements for networking vendors on the subject.

World Cup time is a dreadful time to close sales, but the PR departments of IT vendors (bless them) are kept busy warning of the possibility of World Cup viruses or network meltdowns each time the world's greatest sports tournament comes around.

These warnings rarely materalise into real problems. Though, in fairness, Packeteer does have a point when it says streaming video of World Cup matches has never been widely available before. It reckons widespread use of the technology could cause network congestion and slow down the performance of business critical applications.

That's bad news because IT managers are already struggling to control company networks. Packeteer country manager for UK and Ireland Mike Hemes gamely avoids the temptation to directly plug its products in warning of the upcoming network apocalypse.

"Businesses need to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to identify and control non-sanctioned internet traffic in order to maintain employee productivity, protect the network from overload, and prioritise bandwidth for the most critical applications to guarantee performance during working hours," he said. "Managers can establish flexible policies to allow employees to watch matches at non-critical times."

Our prediction is that workers hoping to catch up with the footy while ostensibly working will find the quality inferior to what broadcast coverage offers. After 10 minutes of trying to get their connection working while attempting to watch Germany against Costa Rica on Friday, they'll decide it's already late into the afternoon and head down the pub, as nature intended. ®

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