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Pigeon faster than broadband
Thursday 10 September 2009 15:03:24 by John Hunt

A pigeon in South Africa has proven that ADSL from the country's biggest web firm Telkom is not faster than a carrier pigeon. An IT firm in Durban decided to race the pigeon against uploading data over ADSL from the company's call centre in Howick to it's office in Durban. Winston, the pigeon carried a 4GB microSD memory card between the sites which are approximately 60 km apart. To ensure the test was fair, rules of the test included "no cats allowed" and "birdseed must not have any performance-enhancing seeds within".

The results of the test showed that Winston completed the transfer in 2hrs 6 minutes and 57 seconds (from uploading data on the card to completion of download from the card) giving a transfer rate of 4.2 Mbps (megabits per second). The ADSL transfer was only 4% complete when the pigeon won the race.

Telkom, the ADSL provider said it wasn't to blame for the slow broadband speeds.

"Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted."

Telkom Spokesperson

More details about the race, including the rules and Winston's route can be found at


Posted by EnglishRob over 8 years ago
Wow that's faster than my upload speed on Virgin. Bet the ping times are awful though.

Saying that, maybe we should be replacing copper with a flock of pigeons rather than fibre. Surely multiple bonded pigeons would work out faster?

Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago

Posted by Pigmaster over 8 years ago
"Telkom, the ADSL provider said it wasn't to blame for the slow broadband speeds."

Funny how the ISP always denies it is their problem. I bet Telkom blamed it on Pigeons sitting on the telephone lines thus reducing the capacity of the line. LOL
Posted by muymalestado over 8 years ago
Always wondered about Dawn_Falcon - here commenting on pigeons.
Posted by rian over 8 years ago
Someday, we can order a movie or download a game delivered by pigeons rather than broadband network, lol
Posted by Frank22 over 8 years ago
Hopefully it does not give BT any ideas!
Posted by baby_frogmella over 8 years ago
Quote Frank22
"Hopefully it does not give BT any ideas!"

Knowing BT they would probably throttle the poor pigeons by the neck
Posted by amforbes over 8 years ago
Lmfao Pigeons faster than broadband.
Posted by adriandaz over 8 years ago
Think Dawn was sighing at the 19 year old joke ;)
Posted by pinkduck over 8 years ago
From the stat of 4% of 4GB complete after 2 hours, 6 minutes and 57 seconds that makes for an average upload speed of 22.03 kB/sec, which is indeed less than the 60 kB/sec upload I get from my home 4Mbit ADSL. Even my max download speed of 475 kB/sec would take 2 hours 27 mins to complete the transfer, 20 minutes slower than the pigeon. I'll take my 32ms ping time though :)
Posted by blackmesa8 over 8 years ago
That is the most silly race ever. It's like me betting someone £10 that i could walk next door. Before they got in there car started the engine drove 5 meters to there turned the engine off and got out.
I bet that broadband would have won if they had been uploading that 4gb to me before the pigeon got here.

Also with that logic people will think it would be amazing if i could drive 10 miles quicker than it took someone who went by jet... If there were 2 airports within 5 miles of each other.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
Do you think so really? Wow...!
Posted by andrewdb over 8 years ago
Quote Frank22
"Hopefully it does not give BT any ideas!"
Funny you should say that as a friend of mine at uni worked a placement in BTs research doing a study in "flocking" (as in birds) - nothing to do with buzzby but some sort of algorithmic model or other!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
Don't think Dawn was sighing, think Dawn would prefer carrier pigeons to fibre, much cheaper.A carrier pigeon might be the only way some rural areas in the UK can deliver 4 gig of photos to be developed in Guernsey. Perhaps the photo labs could start breeding now, and then send the pigeons up by train to rural customers to attach the cards to their legs? Pigeon post prob faster than snail mail too. Way to go. 1990 joke turns into 2009 reality.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Actually I was pointing out the concept isn't new :P (And someone in Sweden actually did an implimentation of the RFC...)
Posted by Pendlemac over 8 years ago
Interesting what the article on here DOESN'T say.

Comments on their website show they have 1Mb/s ADSL so this presumably means 256kb/s upload.

( pinkducks calculation shows that as well )

The recommendations from the telco were probably a) get a faster speed account or b) go for SDSL
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
well it would help to name your ISP....

If you are talking UPLOAD, why is DOWNLOAD speed specified, when you moan???

To get better it needs that thing that you dont wan to use.. IE, MONEY for a decent SDSL ISP???
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Comnut - You're making an assumption. That SDSL is offered. For that matter, Penleton is making assumptions about ISP's and ADSL.

Telkom have a near-monopoly in most of SA, and they don't offer faster than 1MBit upload (4 down) or SDSL, and have strict usage limits.
Posted by ianeiloart over 8 years ago
Hmm, the video saw them launch a lot of pigeons. I wonder what the dropped packet rate was?
Posted by shaunhw over 8 years ago
It was an unfair test!

They should have sent one of those new 32 gig SDHC cards with the pigeon!

Posted by dannyboy60 over 8 years ago
on sat night,[12/10] i clicked a file to d/l and my d/l speed whent to 1.6g so looking at the TB meter it was showing 25m d/l speed, but it only lasted for 4mins, then b/b whent off for couple mins, [thought i had cooked the phone line] and came back at my normal speed of 4.4. if i new how to post pik of meter i would, as i took a pik with mobile. recently had my phone line checked and found it was on old system where it was going 15 miles away from my place and then back to me, and am now on avge 3.8 to 5.4 d/l speed, which in my area is quite good.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
Ducks fly west to moscow.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
that site tells you how long it takes to upload files on most UK connections. On rural connections it takes over 3 days to back up 5 gig online. In notspots (on dial up if it were possible) it would take 20 days. Faster by pigeon.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
rural connections - do you mean 'long' connections?
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