Pigeon Shows African ISP How It’s Done

September 10th, 2009 by · Leave a Comment

In one of the better stunts I have seen to bring attention to poor download speeds at an ISP,  a South African company called Unlimited IT staged a race.  They would take a nice chunk of data and send it 50 miles away via the internet and also via carrier pigeon – in a data card strapped to its leg.  Any guesses who won?  Well, it wasn’t the South African giant Telekom.

Nope, it was the 11 month old pigeon, named Winston, who completed the data transfer in 2:06:57.  Winston?  Geez, they could have at least named him Flash, or Gigabird, or something!  And the ISP?  4% complete, 2 days remaining.  And let’s not even get into the cost of the bandwidth in question – I doubt one day’s birdseed is going to be beatable either.  Of course, they didn’t say just how much data was in that card, you can fit so much these days.  And they didn’t say just how big the access pipes were, though one would think a company called Unlimited IT would have a top of the line connection.  But still – you can see why Telekom might not have been easily available for comment.

The article goes on to suggest that internet speeds in South Africa will improve as the new submarine cables come online.  But exactly how submarine cables could possibly help with congested routes on a 50 mile stretch of dry land is puzzling.  Ok, it’s not puzzling, the cables aren’t a miracle cure – there is clearly a lot of terrestrial cable work that needs doing to truly bring Africa online.

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