back to article How fast is a piece of string? Boffin shoots ADSL signal down twine

An experiment by staff at UK ISP Andrews & Arnold has redefined the meaning of a fibre connection by showing that a piece of wet string can handle ADSL. Our anonymous hero* got the idea for the experiment from a joke that ADSL signal could operate over wet string. Although telephone signals have been successfully passed …

  1. Stumpy

    The irony here being that 3.5Mb/s is still faster than some domestic broadband here in Britain...

    1. horse of a different color

      I'm pretty sure that BT already uses wet string for it's rural broadband infrastructure.

      1. PM from Hell
        Megaphone

        Wet Aluminium & FTTV

        A great deal of discussion has taken place recently about the benefits and costs of Fibre To The Cabinet vs Fibre To The Home. I'm making a plea here for BT to upgrade the remaining 'wet aluminium' links still present in many rural communities with Fibre To The Village( FTTV). I'm fortunate that the village I live in received a fib re connection 2 years earlier than scheduled and we no longer lose service when the village duck pond overflows, but there are hundreds of communities still in that position. I'm still delighted to get 17mbps rather than the 1.5 - 2 mbps I used to receive. Video on demand is now just that rather than a download service which would deliver a watchable film after a couple of hours waiting (or in one case 24 hours)

    2. Ryan 7

      Only if you're 2 metres from the exchange.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Dont you mean the haberdashery?

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Only if you're 2 metres from the exchange.

        Nobody is - hence the slow speeds...

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Salt water...

          It's powered by the tears of BT customers.

    3. Neil Davies 1

      Not necessarily - they haven’t yet claimed they can get a working PPP session over string-net yet

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3.5Mb/s is still faster than some domestic broadband here in Britain

      It's faster than my domestic broadband here in France as well, Britain doesn't have a monopoly on slow DSL.

      1. bob, mon!
        Mushroom

        ADSL slow? Shurely not!

        Here in the wilds of Pennsylvania, two hours west of NYC, I'm getting well over 200 KBps on downloads - so better than 1.6Mb/s for short bursts. LUXURY. Thank you, Verizon!

        1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

          With Telus here in Vancouver, Canada I'm regularly getting about 135 megabits download

          and 110 megabits upload on a home fibre ADSL line for about 85 Canadian Dollars a month

          for 500 gigabytes per month. If they move me to a higher tier for about 135 dollars per month

          I can get Full Gigabit over Fibre ADSL in the multi-Terabytes per month allowed upload/download range.

          Me thinks BT needs to upgrade their network because even with WIRELESS phone-based internet

          I'm getting 15 megabits download and about 4 megabits upload...soooooo.....WHAT IS WITH

          BRITISH TELECOM that your ADSL lines are so bad?

          1. Griffo

            Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

            If you are getting those speeds, you are not using ADSL. The term "Fibre ADSL" is an oxymoron. I'd suggest it's a marketing term dreamed up by someone at your provider.

            The maximum theoretically achievable download speed on ADSL is 24mbits on ADSL2+

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymmetric_digital_subscriber_line#ADSL_standards

            1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

              Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

              I actually do know the difference between copper-based ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) and the SDSL Telus Fibre 150, which is supposed to be TRULY SYMMETRICAL with the SAME 150 megabits upload and download speeds but that never actually happens. It's typically 135 download and about 110 upload which is GREAT for my Skype videophone sessions which give me truly Hi-Def imagery but useless for most web surfing because of websites that DELAY content until 3rd party ads are displayed which can be MANY SECONDS! Download/upload speeds are actually pretty meaningless for most users on today's websites since LATENCY (i.e. the time between responses for server vs client) is a more important measure.

              I can have One Gigabit Ethernet DSL (which is one of the network types I have at work!) but it is USELESS if the websites I surf take XX-number of milliseconds or seconds to respond my input!

              NBCnews and CNN are some of the worst where their ads take soooo long to download from third party servers/responders that it effectively BLOCKS my fast access to those websites.

              ---

              For those those of you who can afford it, I would try OC-768 (OC = Optical Carrier) which are three STM-256 lines aggregated together running at almost 40,000 Megabits (or about 5 Gigabytes per Second!) And YES you CAN play networked games on it BEAAAAUUUUTIFULLY as me and my colleagues have soooo aptly demonstrated after hours !!!!

              ---

              For some engineering fun, you can also paint lines on yourself using conductive bodypaint to make network connections between on-body/wearable computing systems. if you use microvolts at milliamps so you don't interfere with your heart or brain functions (i.e. using the Skin Effect). You can light up your on-body microservers. I remember that from a student project I got to look at during a demo at our local university.

          2. Degenerate Scumbag

            Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

            I enjoy the looks on people's faces when I tell them that in Budapest I get 1Gbps down / 200Mbps up for less than £12 GBP per month.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

              I enjoy the looks on people's faces when I tell them that in Budapest I get 1Gbps down / 200Mbps up for less than £12 GBP per month.

              So only 6x the minimum wage then, equivalent to £42/month in the UK?

          3. The_Idiot

            Re: ADSL slow? Shurely not!

            @StargateSG7

            Should I mention (Canada, yes, Vancouver, no) my own supply?

            256Mbps

            Symetric

            Uncapped

            $50 per month?

            Ah. You're right. I probably shouldn't... (blush). Or that if I felt like spending $100 a month, I could get the same symetric uncapped at 1 Gbps...

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "string (which The Register can reveal was bought on eBay)"

    So this ISP stuff is just money for old rope?

    I was expecting mechanical transfer of data with a couple of tin cans to add voice transmission.

    1. dave 81

      >I was expecting mechanical transfer of data with a couple of tin cans to add voice transmission.

      Me too, disappointed.

      1. My other car is an IAV Stryker
        Boffin

        I actually would like to take a couple of transducers and find the best frequencies for string transmission. It could pulse on/off, pulse the frequency high/low...

        But at longer lengths the frequencies would surely drift too low and might get lost in noise from the mains grid (60 Hz here, 50 at Vulture Central), especially if they shared poles. (And then the wind might be a factor, too.)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "And then the wind might be a factor, too."

          That'll be the Brussels sprouts.

        2. Muscleguy Silver badge
          Boffin

          With normal string I would worry that heavy traffic (stop heavy breathing over there!) would cause the string to self combust with the heat.

          One big advantage of glass fibre (Virgin here, satisfied) is the melting point of glass is pretty high ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            (Virgin here, satisfied)

            ...no comment...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      couple of tin cans

      I believe we've done a wireless connection with that I believe in our office, sadly the marketing wonks at the time didn't seize on the opportunity like our colleagues from the article :)

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "I was expecting mechanical transfer of data with a couple of tin cans"

      That's the "Next Generation Broadband" project.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the "Next Generation Broadband" project.

        I thought that was dependent on how many DVD's you can fit in the USS Enterprise...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the engineer has a quiet moment...

    Could he pop round and put some more salt water on the piece of string linking my home to the exchange?

    Thanks

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

      Very vague memory that there was a phone system in the UK that used the actual physical earth as the return leg of the current for the local loop. IIRC if the phone played up then people had to water the ground stake.

      I don't think I am confusing it with mains electricity delivered that way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

        @ ac ..

        "Very vague memory that there was a phone system in the UK that used the actual physical earth as the return leg of the current for the local loop. IIRC if the phone played up then people had to water the ground stake."

        Yes, some of the very early ones. They had to change due to interference from passing trams etc. Railways did too for some of their point to point phones.

        The "watering the ground stake" came later. the earth was used when you shared a line with a neighbour. (shared service) The bell ringing current and the "call exchange" button would use it.

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

          Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

          "Shared Service"

          Not enough line plant to go round.

          Two lines -one pair, switched by earth return to exchange

          (Oh, the memories)

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

            Not enough line plant to go round.

            Two lines -one pair, switched by earth return to exchange

            The demise of party lines is one of the often-forgotten benefits of privatisation and subsequent investment.

            1. elDog Silver badge

              Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

              And the natural extension from the party line --> single household line --> multiple land-lines per resident --> cell phones for every kid --> IoT!

              And in the end, the amount of real information exchanged stays the same.

              1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

                Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

                @elDog

                But the noise to signal ratio is enormously bigger.

            2. Adam 52 Silver badge

              Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

              "The demise of party lines is one of the often-forgotten benefits of privatisation and subsequent investment."

              BT was privatised in 1984. System X rollout was 1980 to 1990, so halfway complete before privatisation.

              Compare that to the mess that is 21CN and the billions of public subsidy for the FTTC rollout.

      2. Shez

        Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

        you might be thinking of a ground start, which is where to signal to the exchange that the line has gone off hook, the phone briefly connects the ring wire to ground so the exchange can detect the current passing.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

        "there was a phone system in the UK that used the actual physical earth as the return leg of the current for the local loop."

        I still have most of a 1000' reel of gov. surplus plastic covered steel wire that I think was used for military telephones in that way. We could use it by splitting a pair of high impedance phones and using one earpiece at each end as both microphone and receiver. It's been sitting around in various garages since the 50s and still snip bits off as garden wire.

      4. Gnomalarta
        Thumb Up

        Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

        "The Michie Phone (pronounced "mickey" - named for the Australian who invented it) is another type of custom-built cave telephone system using only a single wire with a high-impedance earth return. These sealed, compact units are currently used for cave rescue communication in Australia and New Zealand, and a similar Single Wire Telephone system was developed in the United Kingdom. These relatively compact and lightweight systems have been used for caving expeditions around the world. Michie Phones are no longer commercially produced, and these single wire systems will not work with two-wire field telephones."

        https://fieldphone.blogspot.co.uk/

  4. David Webb

    Chaos

    Is this the mystical String Theory?

  5. AS1
    Coffee/keyboard

    Caffeine high?

    Salt water is OK for a marine environment, but in an office environment, coffee would be more easily obtained. (Schools could use energy drinks as the students always seem to have a Red-y supply of that.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Caffeine high?

      If you are thinking I'm wasting my coffee on office infrastructure, you've another thing coming.....unless it's this rancid emergency Nescafe I'm enduring.

      1. DJV Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Caffeine high?

        What is this "thing" that's coming? I "think" you should definitely tell us!

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Caffeine high?

          One hint, please:

          Is it hard?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Caffeine high?

            Only during the Christmas party.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Caffeine high?

        > If you are thinking I'm wasting my coffee on office infrastructure

        Probably best to use it "post-consumer"...

      3. Swiss Anton

        Re: Caffeine high?

        Once its been recycled (as it were) I'd have no problem using what's left of my finest Arabica to moisten the string. Though I'd suggest using a pot shaped container to collect the fluid. I wouldn't recommend applying the fluid directly to the string, just in case someone makes a call and it activates the ringer, but then again, if that's your thing, go for it.

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Caffeine high?

      Never underestimate the bandwidth of sending the office gossip for the coffee every day...

  6. Xenu

    Yeah

    If you add two baked bean tins at either end it will increase the SNR and give more megabits...

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    I suppose the next question is - was the carrier in question limply or tightly strung? Was it bakers or butchers twine? Or even baling twine? Curious minds and all...

    1. Andytug

      Also...

      Was it a twisted pair?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Also...

        You think it might handle 10mbs?

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Also...

        Was it a twisted pair?
        No, but the two engineers involved were...

  8. Dom 3

    Acorn Econet got there first?

    Decades ago I was told by people with a lot of Acorn connections that this had been done for a laugh with Econet. Although that could well be complete cobblers'.

    1. GlenP Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Acorn Econet got there first?

      Given how sensitive Econet could be when using cable I'm not convinced! :)

      1. skswales

        Re: Acorn Econet got there first?

        Someone decided at Acornsoft that our new office (1984) should be wired up by BT. At least the phone system mostly worked. The Econet was another thing altogether. Spent a 'happy' few days crawling round with voltage source and multimeter 'snagging' i.e. re-wiring *every* sodding Econet socket. Five wires (Clock +/-, Data +/-, Ground) gave the BT monkeys a lot of permutations to get wrong, including not bothering to connect some at random. Oh, and the fact that they managed to shoe-horn 500m of cable into one floor, which when a) detected by anomalous resistance between adjacent sockets and b) optimised by removing random loops only actually needed 120m ISTR.

        I too would like some salt water for my rural strands of phone line. The fresh water stops it working eventually...

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Acorn Econet got there first?

          Ah yes, when Acorn Far East moved into new offices it was my job to crawl around the floor trying to find the breaks in the freshly concreted-in Econet cable. It was a missing socket box underneath a file cupboard.

        2. The_Idiot

          Re: Acorn Econet got there first?

          @skswales

          Oh - if that's Sean, hi!

          Anyway, fond memories. OK - not really fond. New client, has just had new building built over reasonably wide acreage site. I arrive to 'finish the networking'. Client proudly shows me the thirty-five or so CAT 5 cables in the machine room. Non-terminated CAT5. Non-terminated, identical, unmarked white cables, disappearing into a hole in the wall. Heart sinking, I ask where the cables run to. So the site manager says he'll show me. It is, of course, an open field site. Where 'field' is the operative word. It is, of course, tipping down with rain. _He_ is, of course, wearing wellies. Me? Er - no. So we walk, and we go in doors, and we look at bits of white, non-terminated, unmarked CAT 5 coming out of various holes in various walls. He giggles happily, gives me a site map and asks me if it's going to take more than half an hour because it gets dark early that time of year?

          Some nights, I still wake up screaming...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Acorn Econet got there first?

            He giggles happily, gives me a site map and asks me if it's going to take more than half an hour because it gets dark early that time of year?

            I think I met his NZ counterpart.

            Amazing what a muddy field can do for one's piece of mind.

            I'm quite sure they still haven't found his body....

            (joke for those who missed the ICON, serious!)

  9. mykingdomforanos
    Joke

    The secret's out

    I live round the corner from a Kelly engineer and I'd always assumed the bags of salt you can see in his garage were for his water softener or for clearing the ice off his driveway...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: The secret's out

      You presume it's salt....that house in the Bahamas wasn't free y'know.

    2. Mephistro Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: The secret's out

      I always keep a few hundreds of Kg. of salt in my garage, for making "Margaritas".

  10. Danny 5
    Meh

    hmmm

    Ok ok, so dry string didn't work, wet string didn't work, but salted wet string did work. In other words, an ADSL signal carried over salt water and not so much the string.

    I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor and will happily carry any electrical signal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmm

      The internet and salty fluid. Never before has one of those things had any connection whatsoever with the other.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: hmmm

      In other words, an ADSL signal carried over salt water and not so much the string.

      Think of the string as the water's waveguide.

      1. Blitheringeejit
        Coat

        Re: hmmm

        Data over salt water? So it's just a standard I²-Sea bus...

        /coat

    3. mykingdomforanos

      Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

      I'll venture to say, Danny 5, that the key thing here is not to take this too seriously lest the joke be ruined :-)

      1. Little Mouse

        Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

        If the string isn't actually required, then shirley this would work over a stream of piss.

        The duration of the connection would only be limited by bladder capacity, and/or how long you could endure having a crocodile clip attached to your unmentionables. The quality of your aim might also be a factor.

        This could be the next YouTube challenge...

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

          Re: Stream of piss:

          It would be quite a secure data channel too, as there probably won't be that many people volunteering to stage a man-in-the-middle attack.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

            The problem with a stream of piss is surface tension as it rapidly turns from a stream to droplets. I recall there was a Mythbusters episode about pissing on an electric fence or the third rail or some other charged whatsit.

            As for it drying out couldn't one just leave the loose ends in a bit of fluid and have it act as wick?

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

              The problem with a stream of piss is surface tension as it rapidly turns from a stream to droplets. I recall there was a Mythbusters episode about pissing on an electric fence or the third rail or some other charged whatsit.
              It doesn't turn into a stream of droplets fast enough. I worked in a mine mill decades ago and one bloke kept pissing in the corner instead of going to the toilet. Somebody wired a piece of metal to the three-phase power and pissing on that killed him.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

            Stream of piss

            No. That is Twitter.

        2. Mephistro Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

          Related:

          When I was a young lad, a neighbourhood kid took a pee on a light pole, with the hatch open. Cue backflip, instant unconsciousness and lots of cries and swearing afterwards. Apparently no lasting effects for my neighbour, except for his new nickname: "Electroman".

          Yeah, children are cruel.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I may have unbelievable news, but salt water is actually a very good conductor

          @"work over a stream of piss." you are quite correct please hold still whilst I connect the electrodes to the terminals located below the data outlet so I can send you the PDF.

  11. TRT Silver badge

    Do you have a driver for that?

    Thing

    Which is an

    Interesting

    Network

    Enabler.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do you have a driver for that?

      Do you work for the US government by any chance

      Shoe

      Horn

      Idiot

      Typelaw

      Submissions

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Do you have a driver for that?

      String

      In

      Saline

      Alternative

      LAN

  12. ZicoTMW
    Coat

    Will this lead to IP over Rab C?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      "...IP over Rab C?"

      That will make him mad. Pass him a towel and run!

    2. skswales

      That's a mesh network.

  13. Chris King Silver badge

    Don't give BT any ideas now...

    They'll finally find an excuse to pull up all the copper...

    ...then they'll replace it all with wet string and say "everybody has fibre now".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boffins?

    Many Boffins died discovering this information.

  15. Simon Harris Silver badge

    For the next experiment.

    Fill drinking straws with salt water, wet the outside and see if they can be used to replace 10Base2 coax.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: For the next experiment.

      Fill a bag with salt water and see if it can replace a BT manager.

      1. Chris King Silver badge
      2. CentralCoasty
        Angel

        Re: For the next experiment.

        No, no, no, no, no!

        Its not "Fill a bag with salt water and see if it can replace a BT manager."....

        ... its "Fill a bag with a BT Manager and see if can replace salt water."......

  16. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Joke

    "Using a two-metre length of string"

    How many linguine is that? *...

    and more to the point, can ADSL packets be past-a-long wet linguine?

    * actually El Reg's unit converter says it's 14.2857

  17. Roger Greenwood
    Happy

    I see a problem:-

    too prone to leaks.

  18. Neal McQ

    There's a more detailed, excellent, write-up on the used of barbed wire for telephony and "How the West was Wired" here: https://www.inc.com/magazine/19970615/1416.html

  19. Crisp Silver badge
    Coat

    ASDL On a shoestring?

    I'm going...

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: ASDL On a shoestring?

      Don't trip over your data on the way out.

      (D*** you for getting there first, when I searched the page for "shoestring").

  20. Mephistro Silver badge
    Pint

    It may be Wednesday...

    ... but this thread smells like Friday!

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: It may be Wednesday...

      t may be Wednesday...

      ... but this thread smells like Friday!

      But it is Friday today!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: It may be Wednesday...

        Oh, you and your weird time zones...

  21. Keith Oborn

    Tubes

    So take this to a logical conclusion, it's the salt water, not the string, that matters. What we need is long thin thing that can hold salt water. Sort of tube-shaped. Who was it said "The internet is just a series of tubes"?

    Next up: replacing long haul fibres with two LED bike lights.

    1. soulrideruk Bronze badge

      Re: Tubes

      Wait, let me get this straight, theoretically....

      I could connect 2 PC's in a single homemade desk, use appropriately protected water cooling containing salt water, with a loop connecting both devices, and as well as cooling, I could use it as a means of low speed data connection?

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Tubes

      Popular misconception. It's tubas, actually.

  22. apolodoro

    To dust off an old chesnut

    Can you tell the difference between this and a Monster cable?

    1. Chris King Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: To dust off an old chesnut

      "Can you tell the difference between this and a Monster cable?"

      About fifty quid a meter ?

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: To dust off an old chesnut

      Can you tell the difference between this and a Monster cable?

      Well, this used salt water (I'm assuming water with salt mixed in).

      Monster get their equivalent by taking the piss out of the idiots who buy their junk.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Th old adage involving string, I solved this a long time ago so I shall impart my knowledge here for others to marvel at,

    How long is a piece of string?

    Wait for it...

    Half it's length times by two.

    This equally works for speed.

    Genius or d*ckhead? You decide.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last a use for the apocryphal box in someone's grandmother's house labelled "pieces of string too short to use".

  25. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Boffin

    I hope they do a follow-up experiment using rope...

    ... in an effort to prove Spike Milligan right.

    String is a very important thing.

    Rope is thicker,

    But string,

    Is quicker.

    p.s. The meaning of this is obscure

    That's why, the higher the fewer

  26. Dwarf Silver badge

    This needs adding to the units converter

    This yardstick needs adding to the register's conversion tables at

    Units converter

  27. Oengus Silver badge

    NBN Co

    Please don't let anyone in charge of the Australian NBN (or their government masters) read this. They will seize on it as a way to save more money and speed up on the NBN rollout. The current service offerings are bad enough.

  28. elDog Silver badge

    Am I the only one who thought the signals would be physical waves across a string?

    Adding salt water as a conductive mechanism is so "science-fair" project. If you go into those things then perhaps gold-infused string?

    No, I think the right way to conduct this experiment is to send ADSL signals across a string between two human operators tugging at it and writing down the bits that corresponded to each tug from the other end. Add in all the various level-N handshakes and it could take an hour+ to tell the other end "FU".

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Am I the only one who thought the signals would be physical waves across a string?

      Pretty confident they could shout it across two metres by then.

  29. portyman

    but

    it sounds more reliable than my talk talk line

  30. Robert Heffernan

    Tin Cans?

    Passing an electrical current along a west string is one thing. Inquisitive minds want to know what kind of speed could you get with a dry string and two tin cans on the ends?

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: a dry string and two tin cans on the ends?

      As a rough estimate: since you can hear voice OK for typical string properties and tension, and human hearing goes up to 10 kHz or so, perhaps you might (rather optimistically) hope for a bandwidth of several kHz.

  31. 10forcash Bronze badge

    Didn't someone - possibly Cisco - develop switches or routers (or possibly media converters) that would pass a relatively high datastream over pretty much any connected pair? i'm thinking circa 2003 - 2004? from memory, they demonstrated it with some straightened out coathangers and also provided data showing some respectable speeds for the time over something mad like Dannert coils?

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Yes, Cisco did Ethernet over Barbed Wire.

      Looks like most of the links to it have faded away, but I found this one from 2007

  32. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Meh.

    Break out your MIT Radiation Laboratory handbooks from the late 40s and look up 'dielectric rod antenna'.

    Mines the one with the massive, thick rod in front...

  33. Winkypop Silver badge
    Meh

    Don't tell Malcolm Turnbull

    Mind you string can be expensive, when compared to wet tissue paper....

  34. Kaltern

    The amount of rain up here in Scottishland would suggest speeds faster than everything...

  35. tempemeaty

    Excuse me while I go outside and wet my string...

    A wet salty string would explain my over priced, inconsistent, local Cox cable string connection. LOL.

    I've troubleshooted better ADSL services than this. ಠ_ಠ

  36. Dagg
    Coat

    This is total BS

    here in OZ my ADSL connection goes via a pit in ground outside my house and it is always full of water and I have absolutely crap speed.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: This is total BS

      here in OZ my ADSL connection goes via a pit in ground outside my house and it is always full of water and I have absolutely crap speed.
      Here in Oz, my ADSL went via wires on poles to the exchange and gave me 1,500 bps 24/7. My NBN goes through the air via wireless and rarely exceeds 6 Mb/s. Often it's 0 bps. It costs 10 times as much as ADSL and I have 10% of the bandwidth. Fraudband...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: always full of water and I have absolutely crap speed.

      You might try dumping a load of salt into the water. This will either make things better or worse. Or not. :-)

  37. PassingStrange

    Surely, that string should have a "tin" can on each end?

    (Hmm. If you were to put a suitable can on each end, attach the crocodile clips to those, and keep the string taut, you could probably pass an audio signal as well.)

  38. Kiwi Silver badge
    Coat

    Important and serious question..

    So, this running data over a piece of wet string...

    How easy would it be to notice if someone put a tap on it?

    I'm here all week!

    (Thankfully the week is nearly over)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definition of madness

    Remember the old saying about repeating experiments and hoping for a different outcome ?

    Just ask Telefonica in Spain, they have been sending their ADSL over wet string for years............

  40. Frank Oz

    For God's sake!

    ... don't publish this in Australia.

    Our technological troglodytes in government and those in charge of the NBM will incorporate string as part of their 'Mixed Technology Model' ... and we'll be doomed to even slower Internet speeds.

  41. onefang Silver badge
    Boffin

    "Sadly, continued testing was difficult because the office air conditioning kept drying out the string."

    Heat shrink tubing should fix that.

    I wonder if the same experiment would work over wet noodles? Obviously adding salt to taste.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019