Pigeon Thrashes Rural Broadband in speed test

broadband vs pigeonFrom BBC News 16/09/10:

Broadband is the most modern of communication means, while carrier pigeons date back to Roman times.

But on Thursday, a race between the two highlighted the low speeds of rural broadband in the UK; the pigeon won.

Ten USB key-laden pigeons were released from a Yorkshire farm at the same time a five-minute video upload was begun.

An hour and a quarter later, the pigeons had reached their destination in Skegness 120km away, while only 24% of a 300MB file had uploaded.

Campaigners say the stunt was being carried out to illustrate that broadband in some parts of the UK is still "not fit for purpose".

The pigeons are expected to complete a 120km journey to Skegness in around two hours, but Tref Davies, who is organising the stunt to give publicity to the campaign for better rural broadband, said the broadband connection will take significantly longer to tranfer [sic] the 300MB file.

"The farm we are using has a connection of around 100 to 200 Kbps (kilobits per second)," Tref Davies, the stunt's organiser, told BBC News on Thursday morning.

"The kids need to do school work and the farmer has to submit online forms but the connection is not fit for purpose."

Tell me about it, Tref. My shocking internet connection is the bane of my life and while I’ve gotten used to using the connection strategically, it’s still a painful experience.  As Roy said to Moss in an episode of the IT Crowd, “Oh do you remember the internet at this speed? Up all night and you'd see eight women.”

Eye rolling smile But quite enough of that!

Anyway, I hope the stunt was cleared by the RSPB first; there’s nothing like taping a USB key to a pigeon to get the animal rights brigade’s panties in a twist!

It’s hard to believe my GF and I been in this house 11 months now and suffered with a terrible internet connection for so long. Given the fact we’re miles from the local exchange, the attenuation on the line means our ‘broadband’ connection is very narrow indeed. Of course, Virgin Media doesn’t provide cable in the area either!

So, short of doing some kind of community stunt a la what Rutland Telecom did in Lyddington, we’re stuck with sub-standard internet until we move. Of course, if our plans had worked out we would have been long gone by now - in our own house. As it is, we’re battening down the hatches for another winter in a house and area we both hate. Oh well.


  1. This is brilliant! I really enjoy your blog.

    It's nice to know that our clients can reach us by birds.

    Maybe we should advertise this on our website. But then again maybe it would be quicker for [a law firm] to hire 100 pigeons to send our message across the UK.

    What do you think?

  2. Is there a place I can invest in bird-internet? I was just told that a solar flare is going to destroy the grids of the world and I hate being unable to check my email. Besides, how would I be able to check my grades?

  3. What do I think, Stephanie?

    Well, I think you should stop spamming me, for starters! :p

    (yes, I've removed your comment, and re-posted without the links or the name of the law firm you were touting. If you want to advertise on Law Actually, I offer a number of competitive options - just drop me an email) ;-)

    FPS (or is that CCITM) ;-) bird-internet sounds interesting.. not too sure how it would work. I guess telecoms companies could use birds to help lay the wires... :p

  4. Given the current worrying threat of cyber-war (see today's FT "warning over malicious computer worm launched at industrial targets") and the emergence of the "Stuxnet" worm, it's clearly going to be too dangerous to have any dealings with the internet soon, or have any connections with the real world where a computer might be guiding your movements (I'm thinking air traffic control and railway signal boxes for example). I'm contemplating a retreat into the countryside - your poor internet connection may be a blessing in disguise.

    I think pigeon internet is the future. I quite like the idea of attaching my shopping list to a pigeon's foot and sending it to Tescos. Tescos can then deliver in one of their vans a few hours later.

    It's got a future, no?

  5. And in big business, if you really need a huge amount of data transported securely and quickly, your best bet is still magnetic tapes sent by courier.

  6. Previous work in this domain is RFC1149 - Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on avian carriers

    I wonder why they used usb keys though, I think they might have got better throughput by attaching one or more 8GB micro SD cards to each pigeon.


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