• United States
Senior Editor

News sites strained during war coverage

Apr 01, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Some news Web sites slow down as Iraq war coverage ramps up

Keynote Systems began on March 21 measuring performance across the many Web sites delivering news and information regarding the war in Iraq.

Keynote measures data with its distributed network of automated browsers that download Web pages and receive streaming media over high-speed links from all the major backbones on the Internet. The U.S. set of measurements comes from the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and the U.K. set is from the U.K.’s largest sites.

The media networks Keynote is watching include Al-Jazeera, BBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NPR. Keynote selected streams prominently featured on the media Web site to monitor. Al-Jazeera was the one exception; broadcast of news content was intermittent throughout the period measured. For each stream measured, Keynote evaluated the overall availability of the stream, start-up time, packet loss, frame rate, frame loss, and rebuffers.

Keynote reports Al-Jazeera had “massive problems,” with page download times reaching more than 150 seconds on March 23 in Kuwait. Availability decreased almost to zero for the period between 3:00 a.m. EST (11:00 a.m. in Kuwait) to 6:00 a.m. on March 24. On March 24 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, download time had improved to approximately 45 seconds, and availability was approximately 60%, according to Keynote’s measurements.

Keynote also found that the BBC had a brief dip in availability to 70%, between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. EST on March 24 (8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. March 24 London time). And the U.K.’s Times Online, as viewed from the U.S., experienced some problems. Its normal six-second download times increased to approximately 20 seconds or more. But availability remained at 100%.

In its measurements, Keynote also discovered that the Department of State home page (, the Homeland Security home page ( and the FirstGov home page, all had a brief performance problem between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. EST on March 23.

Other U.S. government sites (FBI, FEMA,, the Justice Department, the Senate, House of Representatives and the White House) did not experience notable problems. The New York City home page is also not showing problems.