Pigeon beats Telkom

2009-09-09 12:23

Cape Town - Winston, a homing pigeon, has made history by beating a Telkom ADSL line in delivering 4GB of data from Howick to Hillcrest, outside Durban in just 2 hours 6 minutes and 57 seconds, whereas the ADSL download was "still just under four percent complete" at 11:45.

South Africa's most famous pigeon, left Howick just after 10:00 on Wednesday morning and flew a distance of around 70km to deliver a data card (strapped to his leg) to financial services company The Unlimited at its head office in Hillcrest.

Winston easily beat the ADSL line, despite giving it a 26 minute head start, while stretching his wings and waiting for the company data to be downloaded onto the memory card.

A confident Winston flew straight to his home in Gillits, outside Hillcrest, from where he caught a short car ride to reach the Hillcrest head office.  Homing pigeons have a natural ability to find their way home from any point of departure.

Winston enjoyed huge support with messages from fans on his Facebook profile and constant tweets on his Twitter feed.

He himself also twittered several times with comments like "flying weather cloudy and cool, feeling good, no major problems to report... Hillcrest traffic is a worry".

Right from the start, the general consensus was that Winston would beat Telkom.

Cyber Stone Age

South Africans have long lamented the country's slow internet connections and limited bandwidth.

Despite the launch of the new Seacom cable about two months ago and promises of superfast internet at affordable prices, South Africans are still stuck in the Cyber Stone Age.

The Unlimited Group initiated the pigeon race after intensive research in alternative methods of delivering electronic data fast and efficiently.

"We came across the lesser spotted internet protocol: IPoAC or CPIP, commonly known as Internet protocol over Avian Carrier or Carrier Pigeon Internet Protocol respectively," the company said in a statement on their website.

Hundreds of fans followed Winston's historic flight online, however, many of them had to settle for Twitter updates, as, ironically, their internet connections were too slow to watch the live stream.

"Crap! Internet connection useless! Unable to watch live stream, plse post running commentary so we know how Winston's doing!,"  Jackyah333 tweeted on Twitter.

"Yeah thats why this #pigeonrace2009 is a great spectacle of telecoms inadequacy ;)" another Winston fan Kahlil_Incubus added.

According to a Sapa report, Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty declined to comment on Winston's win, requesting the news agency to send questions via e-mail.

For more information about the pigeon race visit the official website.

  • Long live Winston - 2009-09-09 12:41

    Woohooo!!! Way to go Winston. Winston for president!!

  • Johan - 2009-09-09 12:41

    Just shows you Telkom is still as crap as ever...

  • Kobus - 2009-09-09 12:42

    This is classic, really! I would like to know how long it actually took to do this download or did it "time out" before it was completed.

  • RedTara - 2009-09-09 12:42

    Hmmm...This gives me the idea, that there actually are cheaper alternatives out there. Yay for SA!

  • Vrye Denker - 2009-09-09 12:48

    Gee, I was at least hoping for a neck-and-neck sprint for the finish line.

    A test ws performed some three years back and the conclusion was that it was faster to fly to Hong Kong, download a full-length DVD-quality movie and fly back to SA than to just download said movie right here.

  • Mkhwenyane - 2009-09-09 12:53

    Yeah right, and how long will the mails take to reach Telkom???

  • Baas Koos - 2009-09-09 12:54

    Bwwhaha ha ha ha ha ha @ TELKOM!!!! i am not surprized!!! and you were given a head start!!! Shocking!! but good news for your competitors! Weldone Winston!

  • Morpheus - 2009-09-09 12:57

    Kobus, dude, its still downloading!

  • Chatsubo - 2009-09-09 12:58

    Strangely, they never state what speed the ADSL connection was? Hopefully they didn't throw the contest by using the lowest speed line available.

  • SO - 2009-09-09 12:59

    I can just see the racing pigeon trainers taking of - Did they tell you how long it takes to train one? And now they cannot move buildings as the pigeon only knows one route. Morse code beats cell phone texting – so are we going Morse code again? If you try this in UK or US you will get the same result unless the company forked out the money to pay for a 10 Gig dedicated link between their offices. To do things like this is good for amusement but it will not change the world in 10 sec

  • James - 2009-09-09 12:59

    Way to go Winston ! No comment from Telkom - how typical. So is seacom just a pink elephant or are we going to see its usage by the likes of Telkon(artists) anytime in the future ?????????

  • Stanman - 2009-09-09 13:02

    Well done, but what now happens if Winston needs to retrun the memory card - would he be able to find his way back, or would he have to be driven there - how does Telkom then fit into that scenario...I think Telkom would win the return leg...(home and away)???

  • ADW - 2009-09-09 13:04

    Just wait... it's coming... Telkom hates competition... Soon will come the Telkom-squadron of Pigeon-eating hawks.

  • Birdman - 2009-09-09 13:06

    So how long was the actual flight??

  • Denise - 2009-09-09 13:08

    Way to go! Winston for Minister of Telecommunications!

  • Strike - 2009-09-09 13:08

    another benefit would that the Pigeon never demands an increase or goes on strike!

  • Alan2 - 2009-09-09 13:08

    And anyone is surprised at this? What is reall interesting is how this is being reported internationally... you know, in countries who might be interested in investing here.... Well we are now very firmly in the technological 3rd world. A friend from the UK mailed me a link to this story and could barely stop laughing long enough to type.

  • tnt - 2009-09-09 13:09

    e-mail to telkom probably also delayed...

  • G-Man - 2009-09-09 13:10

    I am now officialy changing from Iburst to FlyBurts, LMFAO

  • Ghwappie - 2009-09-09 13:12

    Next race: a human runner with a data card in a cleft stick. Will still beat Telkom ADSL hands down - if the runner is not mugged or knocked down by a taxi before reaching Hillcrest.

  • WinstonFan - 2009-09-09 13:13

    Another classic example highlighting what we all already knew...
    Grin an bear the current state of affairs while Virgin provide 50Mbps lines in the UK, and places like Singapore, Japan and Portugal it boasts 1000Mbps lines. SA has a long way to go.

  • Burtfred - 2009-09-09 13:15

    The only thing fast about Telkom is how they disconnect you if you don't pay their rip-off bill.
    Go Winston you beauty!

  • Paul - 2009-09-09 13:15

    Fell off my chair laughing.. can I sue Telkom for work related injury?

  • Craig - 2009-09-09 13:17

    "made history" - hardly. This concept/race is not new and has been done in similar ways
    (and results) with older technology many times before.

    The 'race' was a waste of effort as it was a forgone conclusion (barring an unfortunate end for the pigeon). Even if the Telkom line were able to do the impossible and sustain a 4Mbps transfer rate for the entire process, it would still have taken 10 hours! As it stands, the figures in the article suggest a transfer rate closer to 170Kbps.

    In all likelihood, even with first-world high quality telecom infrastructure at 20Mbps, the pigeon would still have won.

  • JJR - 2009-09-09 13:20

    Just make sure you do not put an attachment on the email, otherwise telkom will never get it.

  • Paul - 2009-09-09 13:22

    Fell off my chair laughing.. can I sue Telkom for work related injury?
    Trying to submit a comment on News24 is also a pain lately.. Can we send it via pigeon and then someone just type it in directly into the Db??

    Reminds me of another story.. if you want to download a couple of DVD's, quicker to fly to Singapore, go to an internet cafe (100Mb/s) download it and write to DVD, and fly back.

  • pigeon pie - 2009-09-09 13:23

    WELL DONE WINSTON!!!!!!!! I think because of the speed and precision with which he performed his task, he should be allowed an extra 10 minutes during his flight to fly over Telkom offices on his way and crap on their offices

  • Michael G - 2009-09-09 13:23

    I can see tomorrow's headline:
    Telkom buys a fleet of Homing Pigeons to supplement their network. Roflmao!

  • Peter - 2009-09-09 13:24

    How can upgrade my Telkom ADSl line to a pigeon.

  • Mike3 - 2009-09-09 13:24

    Now, lets try that to Cape Town.

  • Peter - 2009-09-09 13:24

    So what movie did he transfer :D

  • Ahmed - 2009-09-09 13:26

    Every 3 month there should be the Winston Challenge. Challenge Telkom, Vodacom, iBurst, Neotel, ... to face the pigeon.

  • Internet User - 2009-09-09 13:26

    This was done before ages ago.

  • Ian - 2009-09-09 13:28

    We demand that the Pigeon is subjected to gender testing, maybe it was a male hawk!

  • Aryan - 2009-09-09 13:29

    Just shows how crap these BEE companies are. Ha-ha. What a joke

  • JC - 2009-09-09 13:32

    Brilliant! Do you know that it is cheaper to buy a return ticket to Hong Kong, pay for 100Gig of download data, and fly back, than to pay Hellkom to do it locally?

  • Internet User - 2009-09-09 13:33

    I think the more telling sign is that it was almost impossible to watch the live stream. I think that is more telling about how bad our internet is than whether or not a bird can carry some random amount of data faster than it can be downloaded.

  • GW - 2009-09-09 13:33

    Is this not part of Nyanda's portfolio as Min of Communication? Perhaps now that he has two new BMW750's it will be much faster!

  • Bob2000 - 2009-09-09 13:33

    ...And using Vodacom or MTN out of bundle rates, there would have been a bill for at least R8000. I wonder if Winston has some cousins they would like to sell.

  • @ SO - 2009-09-09 13:34

    Well, how long has it taken telkom to lay the lines? How long does it take telkom to come and connect you up? Complete your comparison if you want to use it as a basis for critique of the test. Furthermore, I would bet good money on the fact that you would not get the same result in the States. I have experienced the internet speeds there...and they are also uncapped! Telkom is incompetent! and will always be until the telecoms industry is deregulated. Go Winston!

  • Bokhoring - 2009-09-09 13:36

    It would have had more impact if they tried it with an old 512 MB memory card.

  • CTheB - 2009-09-09 13:37

    So the expected outcome, then. Difference made to telecoms in SA? Most likely zero, unfortunately.

  • Vims - 2009-09-09 13:39

    Obviously this was an unfair test. I'm no Telkom fan, but can Winston deliver data to any corner of the globe. NO! Can you use Skype or IM programs over Winston's 1-way, non live connection? NO! Does Winston have error checking? NO! Don't you idiots see, this was not a competition, it was a marketing ploy by some desperate company to get "free" publicity at the expense of a big organisation. You're all idiots for going along with it. BTW we live in a 3rd world country so why do we always compare ourselves to 1st world countries????? Get over yourselves!

  • IandI - 2009-09-09 13:41

    A pigeon is too fast for Telkom. Let's send a donkey cart and driver next time and see who wins then!

  • Johan - 2009-09-09 13:45

    Telkom has nothing to worry about, soon pigeons will form a union and then not a single one will be of any benefit to us South Africans ever again. And let me tell you, wage negotiations with pigeons can be a most frustrating afair.

  • scott - 2009-09-09 13:47

    Do you honestly think Telkom would pay any attention to this... they probably think we are lucky to have we have got.... more competition is needed in South Africa.. this includes all other public services... if one does not preform.. switch to a different user..

  • len - 2009-09-09 13:47

    If I was Telkom, I would be embarrassed too

  • Anon1 - 2009-09-09 13:50

    Yet another government run parastatle. They should start using a donkey to generate power with a dynamo, there will probably be less power outages than with Eskom. Pigeons also do not strike, maybe a better alternative?

  • @Vims - 2009-09-09 13:51

    Can you use Skype or IM over Telkom network, does Telkom have any checking on non-working ADSL lines NO! Can you get an ADSL line in the same year you ordered it, NO! You get over yourself, they had some fun based on an April fools joke about the Avian protocol. Eskom and Telkom compare themselves permanently to 1st world countries when it comes to increasing their rates.....

  • Dylan - 2009-09-09 13:51

    Vims, you are what scientists refer to as "a moron idiot".