By Jeffrey Goldfarb
LONDON (Reuters) - Record numbers of visitors deluged British Web
sites on Thursday as people around the world sought news of the blasts
that rocked London's public transport.
Sites operated by public broadcaster BBC, satellite TV company BSkyB
(BSY.L), news provider Reuters (RTR.L) and the Financial Times
business newspaper (PSON.L) suffered longer delays on their home pages
Thursday morning in London because of the volume, according to a
company that monitors Web traffic.
"There was a significant amount of turbulence in terms of
performance," said Roopak Patel, an analyst at Keynote Systems.
The BBC expects by the end of Thursday it will have had the most
visitors in a single day in the history of its news Web site, though
it won't have official data until Friday.
"We have had a huge surge in people using the site today," BBC
spokeswoman Naomi Luland said. "We are pretty certain this is going to
be our busiest ever day."
The bbc.co.uk Web site experienced some delays, she added, but handled
the volume well.
"We haven't had any major problems. We've had consistency in
service. There may have been a little slowdown earlier," Luland said.
Among the other popular UK sites were sky.com/skynews, ft.com and
By 3:15 p.m. (1415 GMT), Sky said it had registered 1.7 million unique
visitors for the day.
"That's the equivalent of a month's traffic on the site," Sky
spokeswoman Stella Tooth said.
"We had 25 million page impressions and the site was very robust and
withstood the extra traffic," she added.
The Reuters sites at reuters.com, reuters.co.uk and others in Europe
experienced a "technical fault" with their servers unrelated to high
volume earlier in the day, the company said. The problem was fixed by
"In the morning, we saw five times the normal traffic for our global
network of sites and from this afternoon it was about twice the normal
traffic," spokeswoman Susan Allsopp said. "We saw huge traffic for the
tsunami in Asia so I don't think we can say it's a record, but it's
high peaks in our coverage."
A spokeswoman for the FT said it would not have any information about
the number of visitors to ft.com until Friday.
Keynote's index of some 40 UK business Web sites showed an increase in
delays, with the wait time for pages to load spiking to 17 seconds
during peak usage from the normal average of 2 seconds. Reliability
decreased as well as one in four attempts to load a Web page failed at
peak times, according to Keynote.
"Users who were trying to access the information were seeing higher
than normal delays, and at the same time some people weren't able to
get through to some sites," Patel said.
He added that U.S. news sites saw no major delays because Internet
infrastructure in the United States is more robust and most users were
on the Web hours after the attacks happened.
At MSNBC.com, which is co-owned by General Electric Co.'s NBC and
Microsoft Corp., a spokeswoman said data indicated that traffic to the
site was about twice normal levels on Thursday morning. She also said
the site was seeing twice the average number of streaming video
The spokeswoman added that the site did not experience any technical
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, many news Web sites were so overwhelmed with
visitors that they could not be accessed, forcing on-the-fly redesigns
to simplify homepages with fewer photographs and less
advertising. (Additional reporting by Nicole Volpe in New York)
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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