BT is peeved at an experiment appearing to demonstrate that a carrier pigeon is faster and more efficient than its broadband service. The experiment, supervised by BBC Lincolnshire and carried out by weary internet user Michelle Brumfield, proved embarrassing to the telcom in much the same way as last year's South African soaraway shenanigans.
Ms Brumfield set about transmitting a short five-minute video from her farm, near Bishop Burton in Yorkshire, to a reporter waiting in Skegness some 75 miles away. She had two options to choose from - she could upload the clip to YouTube, allowing the BBC reporter to download it at the other end, or could strap a memory card containing the clip to the leg of Rory the racing pigeon.
She released Rory at around the same time as she began the upload. Ninety minutes later the memory card arrived in Skegness: an hour after that, the reporter was still waiting for the clip to upload. Ms Brumfield’s first attempt to upload the clip crashed after ten minutes.
According to Rory’s handler, the hi-tech route was likely to take three and a half to four hours. He added: "Connectivity [in rural Yorkshire] is no different from in the African bush."
Ms Brumfield told the BBC that they have broadband, but it is accessed by means of a small wireless receiver on chimney stack. She said: "The internet is now widely used as a business management tool. There are many things that business users in Beverley and York can do that we can’t In the last five years internet usage has expanded.
"We find it all very frustrating."
Behind the slightly wacky experiment lies a growing frustration by would-be internet users in rural areas who complain that as far as connectivity is concerned, some areas are now effectively "notspots".
This was borne out by a recent Ofcom report suggesting a digital divide already exists between town and country, with the former averaging twice the access speeds of the latter now – and that gap set to grow as fibre networks begin to spread through towns.
Responding to criticism of BT, a spokesman told the Reg: "The claim that a third of homes can't get broadband is very wide of the mark. Hopefully the pigeon will be more accurate." ®