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Record data transmission speed set by UCL researchers

Written by Wed 2 Sep 2020

A research team at University College London has set a new record for internet speed – double the data transmission speed of any system currently at use in the world.

The university announced that the team, working with Xtera and KDDI Research, achieved a data transmission rate of 178TB/second: a speed at which one could “download the entire Netflix library in less than a second.”

To accomplish the new speed record, the team first increased the bandwidth of typical optical fibre by using a wider spectrum of  wavelengths.

This allowed them to transmit data at 16.8THz, almost double the commercial bandwidth standard of 9THz. Then, they combined amplifier technologies to spread the signal across the wider bandwidth.

Finally, they manipulated the properties of each individual wavelength to maximize the usefulness of phase, brightness, and polarization of each. The combination of approaches resulted in a significant improvement in data transmission speed.

One of the primary benefits of this breakthrough is that it can be replicated outside of the laboratory on existing infrastructure cost-effectively, by upgrading the amplifiers that already exist on optical fibre routes. This means that data transmission can be significantly improved at a fraction of the cost of laying new fibre or installing new equipment.

Dr. Lidia Galdino, lead author and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at UCL, pointed out that the increase in transmission speed – from a standard 35 TB/second on a standard data center, to 178 TB/second –  could significantly improve the capability of broadband networks.

She went on to say that as internet traffic has increased, cost per bit is decreasing, and “the development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend toward lower costs while meeting future data rate demands.”

The previous record, of 159TB/second, was reached in 2018 by Japanese researchers who used a combination of multi-mode fibre and upgraded modulation technology.

In 2019, m-Net and Nokia achieved a data transmission rate of 50GB/second over a single wavelength in a 5G test; which they believed could result in a short-range capacity of 76.8 TB/second.

Written by Wed 2 Sep 2020


Data Centre fibre optics optical networks ucl
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