London Web Traffic Buffeted By Attacks

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Some one in four people heading to U.K.-based news sites such as the BBC, Sky News, Financial Times, and the Daily Mirror, were unable to get through in the hours after the bombings, which occurred around 9 a.m. London time, according to Keynote Systems Inc., a Web performance tracking company based in San Mateo, Calif.

Overall, download times for homepages of the leading U.K. news Websites tracked by Keynote increased by more than eightfold, to as much as 18 seconds. Availability of the news sites normally runs at 98 percent to 100 percent. However, during the immediate aftermath of the attack, that figure fell to as low as 75 percent, according to Roopak Patel, senior Internet analyst for Keynote.

"The total turbulence on the sites lasted about five hours," Patel said. "[After five hours] is when the majority of the erratic behavior stopped and we were getting back to the more normal range."

Keynote said it didn't have quantitative figures, but noted that it believed the performance degradation was due to the surge in traffic.

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Such difficulties in handling unexpected user loads highlights the fact that Web is still a relatively new medium. Patel estimated the Web is still about 10 years away from reaching the level of reliability of TV and radio.

"[The Web] is getting a lot better," Patel said. "But unplanned events will cause a certain amount of disruption."