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SA pigeon 'faster than broadband'

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Winston the pigeon carries a 4GB memory stick across country

Broadband promised to unite the world with super-fast data delivery - but in South Africa it seems the web is still no faster than a humble pigeon.

A Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom.

Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles - in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data.

Telkom said it was not responsible for the firm's slow internet speeds.

The idea for the race came when a member of staff at Unlimited IT complained about the speed of data transmission on ADSL.

He said it would be faster by carrier pigeon.

"We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement," Unlimited's Kevin Rolfe told the Beeld newspaper.

'No cats allowed'

Winston took off from Unlimited IT's call centre in the town of Howick to deliver the memory stick to the firm's office in Durban.

According to Winston's website there were strict rules in place to ensure he had no unfair advantage.

Kevin Rolfe with Winston
Winston is over the moon
Kevin Rolfe

They included "no cats allowed" and "birdseed must not have any performance-enhancing seeds within".

The firm said Winston took one hour and eight minutes to fly between the offices, and the data took another hour to upload on to their system.

Mr Rolfe said the ADSL transmission of the same data size was about 4% complete in the same time.

Hundreds of South Africans followed the race on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

"Winston is over the moon," Mr Rolfe said.

"He is happy to be back at the office and is now just chilling with his friends."

Meanwhile Telkom said it could not be blamed for slow broadband services at the Durban-based company.

"Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted," Telkom's Troy Hector told South Africa's Sapa news agency in an e-mail.

South Africa is one of the countries hoping to benefit from three new fibre optic cables being laid around the African continent to improve internet connections.


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