Fact: Broadband really does work over a piece of wet string
Techies at UK ISP Andrews & Arnold have demonstrated that ADSL broadband can work over a wet string. An inquisitive engineer at the company this week decided to test whether wet string could work in place of twisted-pair copper for an ADSL connection. Using a two-meter (6ft 7in) length of wet string, the engineer was able to reach a downlink speed of 3.5Mbps, which is slow by today’s standards but way faster than yesteryear’s dial-up internet speeds, albeit over a short distance.
While the test was just a “fun” experiment, the engineer was testing a figure of speech probably only heard among network engineers. As the ISP’s boss explains in a blogpost, one of ADSL’s main qualities is that can adapt to function on a really poor line — so bad that it’s been said it will even work on a bit of wet string. The ‘fiber’ connection test failed using fresh water, but a second try with salty water did the trick thanks to salt’s better conductive properties.
Using a length of wet string, the engineer was able to achieve a downlink speed of 3.5Mbps.
Image: Andrews & Arnold
A pair of two-meter lengths of string were dunked into salty water and then connected side by side between two routers. Professor Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey’s department of physics explained the science behind the experiment 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,” he said.
“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.”
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Read more on broadband
- ^ explains in a blogpost (www.revk.uk)
- ^ string of tweets yesterday (twitter.com)
- ^ explained the science behind the experiment (www.bbc.com)
- ^ Wi-Fi problems?
You can boost signals with this £35 tinfoil 3D-printed reflector(www.zdnet.com)
- ^ Now you can 3D-print things that connect to Wi-Fi without batteries or electronics (www.zdnet.com)