Telcos have reported surges in network traffic for general calls, conference calls and video conferencing during the past two days as meetings are cancelled because of the UK's fuel crisis.
BT, the country's largest telco, reported on Tuesday that it had seen reservations to use its conferencing service double from the usual rate of 1100 bookings in a day to 2200 - with an average of five people to a call and in some cases 20 to 30 people on the line.
On Wednesday, 2700 BT-managed conference calls were booked, with another 1800 calls being made either through web bookings or without any managed service. The telco said the number of new accounts being opened had increased five-fold this week.
"Teleconferencing is growing steadily month on month as users overcome fears of what it actually involves - all you need is a phone. But there's no doubt that this week's increases are a direct result of the fuel crisis," Nick Jones, marketing manager at BT Conferencing, told vnunet.com.
Videoconferencing bookings had increased by a third, said the company.
Communications firm NTL also reported that traffic on its call network had increased by about a third. NTL has also encouraged its own staff to work from home.
"We've seen a lot more teleworking since the start of the fuel crisis," said Gary Allden, head of business marketing at NTL. "Indeed, a third of our own staff have been working from home and it hasn't affected productivity. If anything, we've seen a slight increase in productivity."
Meanwhile, a website providing information for surfers trying to find which of their local service stations is selling fuel to the public said its staff have spent the night beefing up infrastructure to handle traffic of one million hits an hour.
Petrolbusters.com has been aggregating information from service station staff, petrol companies and members of the general public. Visitors to the website can input their postcode area for messages on which forecourts are open to the public.
The website was slow when tested by vnunet.com on Wednesday afternoon, although it had improved significantly when checked again midday Thursday.
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