In September 2009, the BBC reported that pigeon transfers data faster than South Africa's Telkom:
A Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom. Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles - in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data. Telkom said it was not responsible for the firm's slow internet speeds. The idea for the race came when a member of staff at Unlimited IT complained about the speed of data transmission on ADSL. He said it would be faster by carrier pigeon. "We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement," Unlimited's Kevin Rolfe told the Beeld newspaper. Winston took off from Unlimited IT's call centre in the town of Howick to deliver the memory stick to the firm's office in Durban. According to Winston's website there were strict rules in place to ensure he had no unfair advantage. They included "no cats allowed" and "birdseed must not have any performance-enhancing seeds within". The firm said Winston took one hour and eight minutes to fly between the offices, and the data took another hour to upload on to their system. Mr Rolfe said the ADSL transmission of the same data size was about 4% complete in the same time. Hundreds of South Africans followed the race on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. "Winston is over the moon," Mr Rolfe said. "He is happy to be back at the office and is now just chilling with his friends." Meanwhile Telkom said it could not be blamed for slow broadband services at the Durban-based company. "Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted," Telkom's Troy Hector told South Africa's Sapa news agency in an e-mail. South Africa is one of the countries hoping to benefit from three new fibre optic cables being laid around the African continent to improve internet connections. (Read entire BBC Article)
To follow up to this BBC article, we would also think it would have been wise to have utilized redundant pigeons for data reliability during the transfer. However, we must admit that pigeons do require limited power and minimal cooling so the economics did work well too, but you must remember the cost associated with feed and medical care. Furthermore, in certain parts of the world, you have to be concerned that some people may try to shoot down the bird and cook him/her for dinner. (Hence the need for redundancy.)
Sorry Winston and associates, over the last 4 years bandwidths have dramatically increased so transferring data off-site to a secure data center location or private disaster recovery site is now fast, reliable, & secure. Safe travels our fair feathered friends and we thank you for your past service to our industry.