On Wednesday an 11-month old homing pigeon called Winston carried a 4GB data bundle from Howick in the KZN Midlands to Durban suburb Hillcrest. The distance of nearly 100 kilometres took him two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds. And by the time he reached Hillcrest the data download, which had started at the same time as Winston left Howick, was only 4% complete – proving that Telkom’s ADSL service is slower than a pigeon.

Hillcrest’s The Unlimited IT head, Kevin Rolfe, told Independent Newspapers that the pigeon race idea started when a staffer, frustrated at the long transmission time of data, remarked it would be faster to send it with a pigeon. “The exercise was really around how do we think out of the box… it gets people smiling and it gets people talking.”

The Unlimited’s call centre in Howick needs to transmit data, including voice recordings of calls, to its Hillcrest head office on a daily basis. This transfer usually takes between four hours and two days – depending on weather conditions affecting broadband.

Winston was chosen not for his speed, but for his unique features. “The owner of the pigeon lives about five minutes’ drive from the head office. We picked a bird out of his collection… he recommended another bird which he said to me was fast, but I picked Winston because he was a unique-looking bird with different colours and different markings,” said Rolfe.

Telkom actually phoned Rolfe and said that if he experienced any problems with their ADSL service he should log a complaint with the Telkom call centre…

References: Independent Online, Mail & Guardian

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