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Carrier pigeon faster than broadband: Wings beat Web

Frustrated by your broadband speed? Spare a thought for the people of South Africa, who have turned to their fine feathered friends for help

When the folks at South African IT firm Unlimited grew frustrated by their broadband speed they didn't get in a flap -- instead they decided to set up a little race. Eleven-month-old carrier pigeon Winston took to the skies clutching a USB stick and made it to the company's Durban office in far less time than the same document transferring via ADSL from Saffer network Telkom. Talk about over-the-air.

Winston, who has his own Facebook page with 2,800 fans and counting, took just 1 hour and 8 minutes to fly the 60 miles between Unlimited offices. In that time, just 4 per cent of the data transferred via broadband. Even with an hour to upload the data from Winston's encrypted 4GB USB stick, it was quicker than the 6-hour transfer speed. And you thought your Internet connection was slow.

While this particular episode of catch the pigeon has the pungent whiff of a PR stunt, it certainly highlights the Internet-access issues faced by many in South Africa. Just one fibre-optic cable connects the country to Europe, although more are planned to be operational by the World Cup next summer. In the meantime, United reckons Winston will continue to wing his way between offices. For the bird world, that's a real coo...