Has Winston the pigeon paved the way for a new data transfer protocol?

  • Winston having the 4GB SD card attached
  • Winston having the 4GB SD card attached
  • Winston and friends leave Howick
  • Winston and friends leave Howick
  • Winston and friends fly by in Howick
  • Winston and friends fly by in Howick
Date:13 September 2009 Author: Sean Woods Tags:,

Limited bandwidth and slow Internet connections have frustrated South Africans reliant on digital media for years. Winston the homing pigeon’s historic flight last week made us all sit up and take notice.

Like many companies, The Unlimited Group – a financial services company based in Hillcrest, KZN, with a number of outlying branches around the province – have been tearing their hair out over high Internet costs coupled with the inability to transfer large data files timeously over landlines for quite a while now. And who can blame them, when transferring 4GB of data takes over two days!

Rather than commit some unspeakable act of violence (like most of us would have been tempted to do), their solution was to take a “liquid lunch” and brainstorm a bit, and boy did it pay off.

Now, we all know that the odd tipple and lateral thinking often go hand in hand. The only problem is remembering your “brilliant” idea the next morning. Fortunately, someone in their group obviously did, and the plan of circumventing the system via carrier pigeon was, er, hatched.

Needless to say Winston beat the landline hands (wings?) down. Taking off from Howick around 10 last Wednesday morning, he took just over two hours and six minutes to complete his mission. According to Unlimited Group’s IT head Kevin Rolfe, by 11:45 the ADSL download was “still just under four per cent complete”.

It gets you thinking. For starters, has a new data transfer protocol been created? Acronyms such as IPoAC (Internet Protocol over Avian Carrier) and CPIP (Carrier Pigeon Internet Protocol) are already being bandied about by the company. Also, should we rather be encouraging our kids to consider training carrier pigeons for a living instead of constraining them in soul-destroying 9-to-5 desk jobs?

I, for one, celebrate the company’s ingenuity and bravery in trying something completely out of the box. It just goes to show what can be achieved when you actually apply your mind.

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