Birds beat broadband

Winston the pigeon is not only the most tech-savvy pigeon in the world, but he also carries himself—and data bundles—remarkably well.

And much faster than Telkom.

The 11-month-old pigeon took off from his company’s call centre in Howick on Wednesday morning to deliver four gigabytes of data to The Unlimited company’s office in Hillcrest, Durban, racing the same data transmission against an ADSL line.

“It was postulated that a pigeon could do this faster than a normal landline could,” The Unlimited company stated on Winston’s website.

Winston—who boasted more than 300 followers on Twitter—himself tweeted several times about his trip; his comments including, “flying weather cloudy and cool, feeling good, no major problems to report ... Hillcrest traffic is a worry”.

ITWeb reported at 11.15am: “Winston has landed”, not disappointing the 1 357 fans of the “Winston the Pigeon” Facebook group, one of them who described him as the “wings beneath my wings”.

Winston’s own website announced a few seconds later: “Winston has landed. We have [data] card in hand.”

Meanwhile, an update on the transmission of the same amount of data being sent via ADSL at the same time showed that Winston had indeed won.

ITWeb reported at 11.45am the ADSL download was “still just under four percent complete”.

Strict rules applied for the race, as was stipulated on the website, including, “no cats allowed” and “birdseed must not have any performance enhancing seeds within”.

The Unlimited sponsored a Samsung Netbook NC10 with 3G built in for those who correctly predicted the winner and the winning time.

Rules for this competition included that “no birds are allowed to enter”.

If the prize is shared, the winners will have to go to a sudden-death prediction of the ADSL download time.

The Unlimited company operates call centres in KwaZulu-Natal and must transmit data, including voice recordings of calls, to its head office every day.

A staffer, frustrated at the long transmission time, recently remarked that it would be faster to send the data with a pigeon, and that is where the idea came from.

“We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement,” The Unlimited’s Mark Smith told Beeld newspaper earlier this week.

Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty declined to comment on Winston’s win, requesting Sapa to send questions via email.

Winston was due to be taken back to Hillcrest in a car.

Several Winston fans lamented that their internet connections were too slow to follow Winston’s race online.—Sapa


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