News sites hit by heavy web traffic after bombings

Users quick to turn to web for latest news

Online news sites in the UK took a hit on Thursday as people turned to the internet for information about the terrorists attacks in London, according to web performance monitoring companies AlertSite and Keynote Systems.

Four bombs went off Thursday between 8:51am and 9:47am London time, crippling the city’s public transport system, killing at least 50 people and injuring hundreds.

The BBC experienced the most significant slowdown from 9am to 1pm London time, says Alertsite spokesman Ken Godskind. He compared Thursday’s performance of the BBC website with its performance during the past week.

“The availability of the BBC site was down to 81%, and the response times to load their home page, which normally takes 1 second to load, was as high as 15 seconds on average during that four-hour period,” Godskind says.

CNN was also affected, but not as dramatically. “The availability of the site was 97%, and the time it took to load the home page doubled from 1 second to 1.8 seconds,” he says.

There was a 15% increase in the response time for viewing the home page of USA Today, but no change in the response times for ABC News, Fox News or MSNBC, he says.

“We were monitoring london.gov.uk, but it didn’t appear to have any performance issues," Godskind says. "Maybe that’s because it’s not a site where people would go to find updates."

Keynote tracked the UK websites of Bloomberg.com, the Financial Times and Sky News, says spokeswoman Della Lowe, and at one point, it took over 40 seconds to download the home pages of the Financial Times and Sky News.

From 9:44am to 1:14am London time, only about one in four readers could access the Financial Times site, Keynote says. From 10:44am to 11:44am London time, the BBC site was also available to only about one in four readers. As for Sky News, it fared even worse: at one point, it was accessible by only about one in six viewers, Keynote says.

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