Thursday, September 10, 2009

When pigeons fly faster than broadband

SA Pigeon Faster Than Broadband

Telkom, one of South Africa's largest internet providers, will now have to compete with carrier pigeons. The Unlimited Group conducted an experiment where they attached an encrypted data stick to a carrier pigeon and simultaneously started a download of 4GB. The pigeon flew 50 miles which took it 1 hour and 8 minutes in comparison to the Internet download which took 6 hours. The issue that becomes important here, is not only the quality of the internet service but the fact that South Africans pay the highest price for internet service and it ends up being the least reliable. Internet access has been growing at a slower rate over the past few years. Currently 1 of every 15 people has access to the internet in South Africa. People's access to information directly impacts their socioeconomic status: opportunities, power, educational advancement, inter-connectivity, etc. We live in a global society, and it is through internet access that people are able to engage in that society. I don't believe that it is any coincidence that here in Detroit we have a huge technology gap and that there is a large disparity between suburban and urban dwellers and there is probably a very similar comparison in South Africa.

(More to come in the future).


  1. Exactly! I don't think it helps that the coorporate world is moving at the speed of light either. In order to find a job, many companies assume knowledge but only a certain economic class has daily access to this knowledge, so it keeps the gap wide.

    I think this is a good arguement for the necessity of Public Libraries as community learning centers. Helping to bridge the knowledge gap when information updates faster than the speed of print.

  2. This article blew my mind away. I really had no idea that there was such a difference of service in South America. I also did not know that they paid the highest price for the worst internet service. It is scary that a pigeon can beat technology; guess the classic forms of communication are always reliable.

    I also like how you correlate this situation to Detroit. I totally agree with your point of the technology gap. Public libraries or some sort of federal funding seem to be the only answer for Detroit. I wish I knew a remedy for South America.

    Out of curiosity, I pulled up a few statistics:

    Internet World Stats for South America (

    389,621,930 population estimate for South America in 2008

    132,385,340 Internet users as of Feb 07/09, 34.0 % Penetration Rate

    13,958,819 Broadband Internet Connections as of Feb 7/09, 3.6 % Penetration

  3. I think you did a very good job with your blog. Lots of good information with a definite international flavor. Great job posting additional links to outside sources and to citing your references.