Wet String Used For Broadband

Forget “how long’s a piece of string?” — the question now is “what’s its bandwidth?” That’s because an ISP has successfully carried broadband data over two meters of string.

It’s the work of an engineer at Andrews and Arnold who was presumably at a loose end in the office. He decided to test the theory that ADSL (the technology used to carry broadband over telephone lines) would “work over a bit of wet string.” That was never meant to be a serious proposition, but rather a turn of phrase to indicate how ADSL can adapt to work reliably, if slowly, over even poor lines.

The engineer found that ordinary string would indeed do the job, as long as it was soaked in salty water to help carry the electrical signal. While admittedly over an impractically short ‘cable’, the data was transferred at 3.5 Mbps. The set-up really did put the A into ADSL though, with an upload speed of 67 Kbps. (No word of the ping of the string.)

The company told the BBC that the set-up had “no commercial potential that we are aware of.” However, it said it’s a good reminder that some problems with a network that show up as a low connection speed may simply be the system adjusting to a poor quallity line.




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