You’d have to be bird-brained to think that South Africa’s broadband speeds are anything but atrocious, after a carrier pigeon strapped with a data card beat the country’s leading internet service provider.

A South African information technology company – The Unlimited Company – frustrated with consistently slow internet transmission rates in their country, proved on Wednesday that it was faster for them to transmit data with a carrier pigeon to send it using Telkom. [stating the obvious aren’t we? –ed]

Local news agency SAPA and subsequently Reuters reported the 11-month-old pigeon, Winston, took one hour and eight minutes to fly the 80km from Unlimited IT’s offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card strapped to his leg.

Including downloading, the transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds – the time it took for just four percent of the data to be transferred using a Telkom line.

Internet speed and connectivity in Africa’s largest economy are poor because of a bandwidth shortage. It is also expensive, putting it out of reach of many of the local population.

Comment is being sought from Telkom and the following was obtained:

Telkom says it cannot be blamed for slow broadband services at a Durban-based company which claims a pigeon can carry its data bundles faster.

“Telkom would like to clarify that the company cannot be blamed for this particular customer’s lack of throughput speeds,” Troy Hector, executive of business sales and ICT business solutions, told Sapa in an email on Thursday.

“Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted. It must also be noted that Telkom is not the customer’s core service provider,” said Hector.

According to Reuters, internet speed is expected to improve in the country once a new 17,000 km underwater fibre optic cable linking southern and East Africa to other networks becomes operational before South Africa hosts the soccer World Cup next year.

Local service providers are currently negotiating deals for more bandwidth.

No word yet either with regards to the entire South African broadband network being replaced with carrier pigeons.


Telkom says it is not to blame for slow broadband…