Internet service provider, Virgin Media has announced its intentions to use over 20 specially trained ferrets to support its cable network for one year and will mark the launch of its new team with an iconic photoshoot using some of its leading ferret workers inspired by the famous 1932 Charles C Ebbets photography ‘Lunch atop a skyscraper’.
As well as being trained to search out the best places to install fibre optic cable, the rodents will be fitted with a special microchip allowing the provider to view the locations of any breaks or damage in its underground network.
Virgin Media first got the idea for using rodent workers after it discovered ferrets were used to lay TV and sound cables for televised coverage of the Party in the Park concert in Greenwich at the turn of the Millennium.
The government has set a target of universal broadband access of 2Mbps by 2012. Analysts estimate that the cost of running fibre optic cables to all parts of the country could cost anywhere between £10 billion and £25 billion. A 50p levy of every phone line in the country has been proposed to cover costs
Jon James, director of broadband for Virgin Media, said: “For hundreds of years, ferrets have helped humans in various jobs. Our decision to use them is due to their strong nesting instinct, their long, lean build and inquisitive nature, and for their ability to get down holes. We initially kept the trial low-key as we wanted to assess how well the ferrets fitted into our operations before revealing this enterprising scheme.”