I have a devout wish for this World Cup ... and it's not that England win it (well, it's that too) but that I stop receiving press releases from companies claiming that the World Cup is going to seize up bandwidth, cause websites to crash, bring on widescale absenteeism and, for all I know, cause a new onset of Black Death.

I say "for all I know" because I've just stopped reading the releases. They all seem to make the same preposterous claims about the effect of the tournament on working practices and all seem to have a get of dubious statistics - bearing in mind the old saw: there's lies, damned lies and World Cup stats.

Some of the claims are absurd. For example, 54 percent of staff are planning to watch the World Cup on computers at work and, even more ridiculously, bandwidth use will rise by 80 percent in the US, during key matches.That's right - that the US, the same country that places football on the rough sort of level as barrel rolling and extreme ironing. The release didn't say what games but it's worth pointing out that one of the US games takes place at the weekend and the other two are outside work hours (for the West Coast at least) so we have to assume that network traffic is going to double for a sport that hardly anyone watches for matches involving non-US teams - completely barking.

The whole exercise reminds me of doing experiments in my Physics A Level. I knew what the results of the experiment should be, so if I didn't get the right answer, I made them up so they would fit neatly on my plotted graph. World Cup statistics - at least those emanating from PR companies - seem to have been concocted on the spot to fit some sort of grand vision.<http://twitter.com/maxcooter

Of course, I can see why PR companies want to hang a release on something but honestly, you're not being original. Every time there's a major sporting event, I get emails warning about the effects on the network, so if you're sending them out today, I've probably already had 17 on the same subject.

The truth of it is that if a network is really, really suffering under the strain of a few people looking at the odd game and a few more checking scores, there's probably quite a lot wrong with the underlying infrastructure anyway. And if the World Cup really did cause the type of catastrophe that the doom-mongers are predicting, the the UK's networks are really not in the type of condition to move to a world where video dominates and where cloud computing - relying on fast, resilient links - will be the norm.

It would be a good opportunity for enterprises to check network availability, but don't be surprised if it's better than expected. After all, who wants to be working in the evening to fix things when there's football on telly?

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