Adrian Kennard, who runs an ISP called Andrews & Arnold in the UK, took the old joke among network technicians that it’s possible to get a broadband connection with two cans connected with some wet string a little seriously.
In a blog he is shown building a string based broadband connection using six feet of twine soaked in salt water - which has better conductivity than fresh water - connected with alligator clips to establish the connection.
This worked because the connection “is not really about the flow of current.” Instead, the string is acting as a guide for an electromagnetic wave—the broadband signal carrying the data—and the medium for a waveguide isn’t so important.
According to Kennard’s blog post, the wet string connection was able to get 3.5 megabit per second download speeds. While this is slower than most internet connections to people’s homes - the average internet connection speed in the US is around 26 mbps - you can’t really quibble when you are using string.
Kennard’s post noted that the upload speed over the string connection was much slower and the whole thing had absolutely no commercial potential at all.
“What it does show, though, is how adaptive ADSL really is. This can be important when it comes to faulty lines with bad (or even disconnected) joints still providing some level of broadband service”, he said.