In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

Summary: In South Africa, the fast data delivery that broadband promises has yet to materialize. So much so, in fact, that a carrier pigeon can beat it.

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There's no denying the power of effective broadband service, but in South Africa, the fast data delivery that it promises has yet to materialize.

So much so, in fact, that a carrier pigeon can beat it.

An IT company based in Durban, South Africa sponsored a 60-mile data transmission race between an 11-month-old pigeon carrying a 4GB memory stick and the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom.

'Winston' the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles.

In that same amount of time, the ADSL had sent 4 percent of the data.

Of course, Telkom said that it was not responsible for the slow Internet speeds.

The BBC reports:

"Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted," Telkom's Troy Hector told South Africa's Sapa news agency in an e-mail.

The idea for the race grew out of IT professionals' complaints about the speed of data transmission on ADSL.

One IT pro based in the town of Howick said it would be faster by carrier pigeon.

Turns out he was right.

Howick-based Unlimited IT said the pigeon took one hour and eight minutes to fly between the offices. The data took another hour to upload on to their system.

South Africa hopes to benefit from three new fiberoptic cables being laid around the African continent to improve Internet connections.

Until then, well, there's always Winston.

Topics: Mobility, Broadband, Browser, Networking, Telcos

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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12 comments
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  • Translation: That's about 180Kbps

    For the DSL speed. And given that they were uploading from another
    DSL connection, that's pretty close to a common upload cap of 256kbps
    in the US.


    cgarrett
    • Exactly right, this is sensationalist

      There are 2 aspects to "fast": bandwidth and latency.

      While the bandwidth of a carrier pigeon might be faster, the first bit arrived in 2 hours. That is [b]huge[/b] latency compared to what you would get with even a slow modem which would be measured in milliseconds.

      15 years ago, my university prof taught us this lesson: never underestimate the bandwidth of a truckload of tape.

      So pick the right tool for the job. At home, it is sometimes faster to transfer data onto an external HD, walk over to the other computer, and copy the data off the external HD instead of using the network.
      NonZealot
      • You beat me to it!

        Hey, NonZealot, did you ever have any
        connection with Drexel U in Philly? Because
        whilst I worked there WAY back in the 1970's,
        we speculated how long it would take to
        transmit backup data to Harrisburg, some 100
        miles distant.

        The result was indeed the phrase, 'never
        underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon
        full of tapes' on the PA turnpike!

        Over the years, we got carried away calculating
        the bandwidth of such things as a C5A cargo
        plane filled with CDs (at that time).

        As you point out, latency and 2-way traffic are
        bits of another matter.

        Sometimes it's still more efficient to load up
        a USB drive and use SneakerNet if not BirdNet.
        ProfQuill
        • No connection

          [i]Hey, NonZealot, did you ever have any
          connection with Drexel U in Philly?[/i]

          Nope but who knows, maybe my prof did?
          NonZealot
          • The Art of Computer Programming

            also reminds the reader not to underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes. So it is hardly an original thought.

            As computer people, you should have read Knuth!
            mejohnsn
    • Think again

      Are you illiterate and innumerate? Or just illiterate?

      (256-180)/256 = 0.2969 is 30% So they are 30% short of the cap here.

      Even more important, as the article points out and you ignore, they approached that cap only after an unacceptably long time when they only reached 4% of the data transfer. That means that during that time, they were nowhere near even that 180kbps.
      mejohnsn
  • Would that be called Beaker Net...

    instead of Sneaker Net?
    tom_briscoe@...
  • RE: In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

    Hmmm.

    Maybe Linux chose the wrong bird as its mascot....
    DataFerret
  • RE: In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

    Must be using ATT!!!!
    pagraves
  • RE: In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

    i live in sa and let me tell u our local telkoms company is teribly slow it has a almost complete monopoly (well not any more) VISIT HELLCOM TO FIND OUT HOW WE LIVE HERE
    michaelp1@...
  • RE: In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

    It is a brilliant publicity stunt to illustrate to the world how bad the service is over there.

    Predictably, the company at fault, Telekom, shows industrious energy only in making lame excuses for hte inexcusable.
    mejohnsn
  • RE: In South Africa, carrier pigeon faster than broadband

    Nice illustration.
    http://www.gurustump.com/images/vectors/
    carrier_pigeon.php
    gurustump