Homing Pigeon Faster Than Internet in Data Transfer

We've complained about the state of US broadband before but we estimate that, in general, most data transfers are at least faster than this. In a race run in Johannesburg South Africa, a company proved it was faster to transmit data by carrier pigeon than to send it via the country's leading ISP.

Unlimited IT, frustrated by the speed of data transfer provided by ISP Telkom, tested and compared the speed of transferring 4 GB of data 50 miles via homing pigeon as well as the Internet. The pigeon won by a long shot, arriving in two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds. Meanwhile, the company, which regularly transfers data between its 11 call centers, managed to transfer only 4% of the data using Telkom's broadband services.

The time for the pigeon included unstrapping the card and downloading from the card to a computer. Winston is 11 months old, and has a Facebook page with over 3,000 fans, by the way.

To be honest, this took place in South Africa.  We're not talking the United States here, and not even North America.  It is, in fact true, that American broadband isn't exactly up to par with other countries, however.  In fact, if you look at recent studies, you can see just how far behind the United States is.  A comparison done by Speed Matters and released in August showed that the average Internet download speed in the U.S. has increased by only 1.6 megabits per second (mbps), from 3.5 mbps in 2007 to 5.1 mbps in 2009.

That might sound good, but not when compared to South Korea with an average data rate of 20.4 mbps, or four times faster than the U.S. The United States ranks 28th in the world in average Internet connection speeds, in fact.

Winston gets ready for flight

And truthfully, there is far more to broadband than just speed.  What good is a 20.4 mbps speed if you run up against a cap?  It just means you reach your limit faster.  Yes, we're talking about you Time-Warner Cable and you, Comcast.  Media providers continue to give us more options for viewing media through broadband, but ISPs continue to limit what we can do.  Something has to give.

Image courtesy: Winston Pigeon Fan Page

In an ironic development, several Winston fans noted that their internet connections were too slow to follow Winston’s race online.  It's unclear where those followers were located.