A Small ISP Tested a Wet-String Broadband Connection, Just for Fun

By Tom Pritchard on at

While most companies might occupy their time with making a broadband connection faster and more efficient, one UK ISP decided it would be fun to see how well a piece of wet string would fare. It actually worked as well.

Engineers from Andrews and Arnold managed to get a speed of 3.5 Mbps, though the whole point of the experiment was to see if it could be done. Sadly they don't believe there are any practical applications for the new finding.

According to the ISP's director Adrian Kennard, the test does show just how adaptable an ADSL connection can be - something that's important when it comes to faulty lines that are still able to provide some broadband connectivity.

Prof Jim Al-Khalili from Surrey University's physics department explained the process to the BBC:

"Although wet string is clearly not as good a conductor of electricity as copper wire, it's not really about the flow of current. Here the string is acting as a waveguide to transmit an electromagnetic wave. And because the broadband signal in this case is very high frequency it doesn't matter so much what the material is."

So don't go expecting to have your house wired up to damp string anytime soon, but it's a pretty cool discovery. But if wet string can provide 3.5Mbps, how come my fibre connection was giving me a third of that last night?

The world of broadband is very mysterious. [BBC News]


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