Yesterday Trefor Davies of business communications provider Timico started a race to see which would be faster, uploading a video from a rural broadband connection or sending the data via carrier pigeon. The aim of the test was to point out that in some areas, broadband connections are so poor that sometimes even sending via pigeon can be quicker!
Of course, in this case, the pigeon won, arriving in 1hour 15mins by which point the video upload was only 24% complete. The file that was around 300MB in size achieved a data rate of about 533Kbps by carrier pigeon, although this didn't allow for overheads such as copying the data on to the data card carried by pigeon or retrieving it at the other end. The broadband connection being used has an upstream data rate of 200Kbps, which unusually is faster than the downstream which is only 100Kbps (or 0.1meg). Whilst the data rate was slower than the similar experiment last year in South Africa where the pigeon achieved 4.2Mbps (including overheads), it can be setup in such a way to ensure that the pigeon wins by increasing the amount of data sent.
Of course, carrier pigeon may not prove to be the fastest method of transferring data. Sending hard drives of data by vehicle could provide a faster data rate, although sometimes even this could be beaten by royal mail as proved by a race in Top Gear. However, this does show that rural areas really could benefit from investment to provide faster connections.