The trial of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp enters its final stages tomorrow when the prosecution and defence will present their closing arguments to the judge. Which means that whether you’ve been enthralled by the proceedings or bored out of your skull, for the last six months, you won’t be able to avoid the expected wall-to-wall coverage that’ll kick off in the morning.
How much coverage can we expect? Lots. And we know that not just by monitoring the acres of newsprint dedicated to the subject. The operator of Africa’s busiest internet exchange, Teraco, has been kind enough to share some stats with us relating to the amount of data flowing through its NAPAfrica servers over the course of the trial. Teraco’s datacentre is the point where many South African networks interface with the outside world, so while these stats aren’t comprehensive in terms of total bandwidth dedicated to Oscar coverage on the South African internet, they’re a good indicator of where the interest spikes were and how much traffic they might have generated. The graphs below show peak data unless otherwise specified.
So, what does the graph look like? Read on (you can click to enlarge any of the pictures below).
Overall: Teraco’s data centre handled a massive amount of data, but it is clear from the chart above exactly when internet users where most interested in the trial. Described as the “trial of the century”, internet users gobbled up bandwidth during Pistorius’ testimony and when Nel started his cross-examination. The background noise at the start of the trial was around about 4.8Gbps, and it’s worth noting that new clients have come onto NAPAfrica since the trial began – average traffic flow now is well over 10Gbps. So we’ve cut the stats off at the point that the trial was adjourned, in April. We’re told interest was a lot lower for the rest of the trial. Also, it’s hard to separate out traffic patterns between the Oscar trial and the World cup later on in the proceedings – although we’re assured the former has generated more spikes.
3rd February: With a month to go before the trial started, Teraco’s bandwidth reached a peak rate of about 4.8 Gbps.
3rd March: Anticipation for the trial to start reached fever-pitch when it did eventually get underway – and it showed in the traffic. Bandwidth usage flowing through Teraco’s data center reached peak levels of 7.6 Gbps.
28th March: The trial went on a break from the 28th of March until the 6th of April, but that didn’t stop the internet from gathering more information. “Traffic average dropped by only a few hundred Mbps, but we still saw peaks of up to 7.5Gbps,” Teraco explained.
7th April: The biggest moment that most trial watchers were waiting for, was when Pistorius took to the stand to testify in his own defence. Bandwidth peaks skyrocketed to almost double from the previous week, peaking at 11.7Gbps.
9th April: With Gerrie Nel fast becoming a cult-like figure, interest in the trial grew as the weeks passed. On the day the terrier-like Nel started his cross-examination. Peak level of bandwidth topped 13.1Gbps. That’s almost three times the baseline.
9th April: Nel’s vigorous cross-examination technique spurned more bandwidth use, and at this point Teraco saw the daily aggregate (as opposed to the peaks) increase from 3.0Gbps to 5.3Gbps. Not as big a jump in average internet use as the huge peaks suggest, interestingly.
14th April: Gaining mainstream traction as a no-nonsense lawyer who usually starts an argument with “I put it to you…” bandwidth flowing through Teraco’s data centre remained steady, peaking at time around the 11.8 Gbps. While the peak bandwidth dropped slightly, the daily aggregate increased to 5.5Gbps.
18th April: As the trial started to wrap up, cross-examination of witnesses ended on the 15th of April. By the 18th of April, further interest in the trial started to wane, as peak bandwidth use was down to 9.7Gbps, while the daily average was back down to its pre-trial levels of 3.70Gbps.
21st April: As the trial officially came to an end, there was a significant drop in interest as internet users moved away from court proceedings. As the trial adjourned, Teraco’s data centre handled peak bandwidth of only 6.2Gbps, while the daily aggregate dropped to 3.6Gbps.
So what’s next – we’ll be keeping an eye on NAPAfrica’s stats tomorrow to find out.[Main Image – CC by Bloomsberries]