Attention Modem Users: Try a Homing Pigeon

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Homing Pigeon / TechEye

And now for something completely different. (You didn’t guess I was a Monty Python fan, did you.  See?  You never know….)

If you’re still stuck with a slow  Internet connection, as about a third of rural U.S. households are, consider buying a homing pigeon instead, at least for uploading family photos and large documents.

On Monday, September 20, 2010, in Beverly, Yorkshire, U.K., a test was conducted to determine the speed with which a 300Mb video file could be uploaded to YouTube. Contestants were a PC on a rural Internet connection and a homing pigeon.

Lest you expire from suspense, I’ll tell you straight off that the pigeon won. Of course you knew that. It wouldn’t be news if the Internet upload got the video there faster.

The contest started at a farmhouse in Beverly when the video was copied onto a memory card and strapped to the leg of a homing pigeon named Rory. At the moment Rory was sent on his way, home to his loft in Lincolnshire 84 miles to the south, the identical video was started uploading to YouTube.

Eighty minutes later, when Rory and the video reached their target, the Internet modem had uploaded 72Mb, about a quarter of the video.

Reporting on the contest, offered this analysis.

Can pigeon post replace rural broadband?


  • A homing pigeon can be bought for £20 whereas modem prices start from £25.
  • Four weeks of pigeon food costs £9 and four weeks of broadband costs around £20
  • A pigeon is a friend for life while a modem just lurks in a corner and flashes in a bad-tempered kind of way
  • Lifespan for a pigeon is 25 years. Modems live about five years.


  • Pigeons can fall prey to hawks and hunters. Broadband is relatively reliable and, properly firewalled, fairly secure.
  • In the mating season pigeons can be unreliable whereas modems rarely mate in captivity.


Pigeons seem like a good substitute for broadband but there are limits. When it comes to short messages like email, pmail would not be as efficient. Also, pigeons have to be transported from their loft to the transmission point. One overriding advantage of a pigeon is that at the end of its useful life it makes a great pie, unlike a modem.

Read the whole story here.

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One Response to “Attention Modem Users: Try a Homing Pigeon”

  1. Get a horse!

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