random thoughts to oil the mind

Dick Dastardly’s DSL

Interesting little snippet about the current state of South African Internet services. Designed simply to show up the state of South Africa’s Internet options, the test pitted a pigeon against a connection delivered by their largest provider. The pigeon managed to deliver 4GB of data 60 miles in little over an hour, and it took the company another hour to upload the data (one can only assume they were for some reason using an old USB 1.o/1.1 connection). In this time, just 4% of the data had been transferred via ADSL. Humbling though this message might be, I really wonder if services in the UK would fare much better? At a rough estimate, in the total amount of time it took the pigeon, my own connection might have managed around 5% of the total. The average business connection would probably have achieved twice that, but either way, the pigeon method wins hands down. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any alternative pigeon networks set up in the UK just yet. ‘Packet loss’ due to hawk attacks would be monumental.

[Via African Politics Portal]

Update 5th October, 2010: Twelve months after this little stunt in South Africa, a similar experiment was repeated in rural Yorkshire. This time 24% of a 300MB video clip had been uploaded by the time the pigeons had covered the 75 miles to Skegness.


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  1. ComradeP

    Hm, well, the pigeon's bandwidth (including the hour it took them to transfer 4GB via usb, somehow) comes out as 4.55Mbps; if their DSL provider had managed 4% of the data in the same time, then of course their bandwidth is 1/25th of the pigeon's, or 186.4Kbps. Kinda crappy for "broad"band, but still easily more than 2xISDN speed…

  2. I'll admit that's pretty slow, though it is a test of the connection's upload speed. That's probably advertised as 256kbps upload, which may be about right if we add in some overheads, and the fact that from the video it appears they were copying the file over a VPN (allowing Windows to pause the transfer for quarter of an hour whilst it checks free space requirements?). It's still slow for broadband, and particularly for a business connection, but relatively speaking not all that bad for ADSL.

    Regardless, I am tempted to repeat the pigeon experiment. Just need to find some inexpensive, lightweight USB keypens!

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