April 1, 2010
7:00 AM -- You have to give Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) credit for at least trying... Below is its press release issued today, April 1 (for those who hadn't looked at the calendar yet).
Fibre optic ferrets unveiled as Virgin Media’s secret weapon for broadband service
One year anniversary of using the talented rodent workers is marked with an iconic photo-shoot
Virgin Media today unveiled the secret weapon to its leading super-fast broadband – ferrets.
The broadband expert has been using specially trained ferrets to investigate, assess and support its cable network for one year. On the eve of this unique anniversary, Virgin Media is announcing the news with an iconic photoshoot using some of its leading ferret workers.
These unusual engineers not only assist in searching out the best places to fibre optic cable, but also wear jackets fitted with a special microchip able to analyse any breaks or damage in the underground network. The ferrets are then able to detect if there is any maintenance required and feedback to their human counterparts.
Virgin Media’s broadband team came about the idea when discovering that ferrets were used to lay TV and sound cables for the televised coverage of the Party in the Park concert in Greenwich at the turn of the millennium. Initially rolled out on a trial basis for the first year, the scheme has proved so successful that Virgin Media is expanding its ferret force and continuing to use the furry investigators to help bring high-speed broadband to the nation.
The team of over 20 specially trained ferrets are the fastest in the land and hail from the National Ferret School in the Derbyshire Peaks. Headed up by Fang and Bandit, who are top breed Silver-mitt ferrets, the ferrets undergo regimented training at the school and love to race in their spare time. To mark the one year anniversary with Virgin Media the ferrets can be seen sitting patiently in a recreation of the famous 1932 Charles C Ebbets shot, 'Lunch atop a skyscraper', which was taken during the construction of the Rockefeller Centre in New York.
Jon James, director of broadband for Virgin Media says: "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!"
— Ray Le Maistre, VP of Rodent Pranks, Light Reading
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