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article imagePigeons beat rural broadband in race

By Lynn Curwin     Sep 16, 2010 in Technology
Pigeons were able to deliver information faster than rural broadband in a 120 kilometre race staged in the UK on September 16.
Ten pigeons, carrying USB keys, were released from a Yorkshire farm at the same time a five-minute (300MB) video upload was started.
The pigeons reached their Skegness destination in one hour and fifteen minutes, when only 24 per cent of the file had been uploaded.
Race organiser, Tref Davies, told BBC News: "The farm we are using has a connection of around 100 to 200 Kbps (kilobits per second). The kids need to do school work and the farmer has to submit online forms but the connection is not fit for purpose."
Davies, who is co-founder of ISP Timico and a member of the board of ISPA (Internet Service Providers' Association), said that the UK should be well-connected but about a third of homes are still unable to receive broadband.
A BT spokesman disagreed, saying that 99 per cent of homes could now get broadband, and that there are only about160,000 lines "where excessive line length means broadband won't work."
Some of the homes with broadband have very slow speeds.
Last year, research commissioned by the BBC showed about three million homes with internet connections below 2Mbps (megabits per second).
Lloyd Felton, founder of the Rural Broadband Partnership, told BBC News: "It's true that there are particular areas of the country that suffer much more than others.
"You've got massive deprivation - this long-quoted 'digital divide'. As we all get more dependent on the internet, that divide gets wider.
In a race last year, Winston, a pigeon in South Africa, beat an internet connection, flying 96 kilometres in two hours with a 4GB memory stick. Only four per cent of a file had downloaded in that time.
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