There was some debate in Hong Kong leading up to football's World Cup about just how the public was going to watch the event.

Unlike almost every other nation in the world, football fans here have not been offered the event on free-to-air television in their homes - they have had either to pay for a subscription to the pay-TV iCable service for all 64 matches or wait until the semi-finals and final are beamed on regular terrestrial TV stations. But even then those finals are only being offered in high definition, a service for which again you have to pay.

But this tech-savvy city is not one to easily be denied. And while many punters have certainly been heading to pubs and clubs to watch the matches - many more have been sitting at home and picking up live streaming signals of the event via the internet,

There was more internet traffic in the city than there had ever been before on the night of the England-Germany second round match, for example, with one of city's internet watchdogs estimating more than 120,000 homes were picking up World Cup signals that are relatively easy to find but pretty much illegal.

The period since the World Cup started has seen a 40 per cent increase in internet traffic, according to the to Hong Kong Internet eXchange, and while they cannot categorically pinpoint what people are viewing, the figures seem to stand for themselves.

Traffic in the city was tracked at a record 138.5 gigabits per second during the England-Germany match, which in itself was five gigabits more than at any time during any other World Cup match.

David Choi Chan-hung, head of the Hong Kong Internet eXchange's data communications and networking section, told the "South China Morning Post'' that streaming-driven traffic surges point to nothing else but the fact that people were watching the games online.

Websites around the world - such as - have been uploading television broadcasts through peer-to-peer file sharing, much to the annoyance of authorities who have staged a running battle in trying to shut down the sites.