The big picture: Internet connections have been on the rise for years, long before Covid-19 forced millions to stay in their homes and pushed web traffic to new heights. Fortunately, the existing infrastructure has not given in under the stress, but going forward there is no doubt that we will need faster connections in the future to support our increasingly digital world.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) in partnership with experts from KDDI Research and Xtera have set a new world record for data transmission rates.
By working together, the team was able to achieve a data transmission rate of 178 terabits per second, or 178,000,000 megabits per second. According to the UCL press release, that’s fast enough to download the entire Netflix catalog in under a second.
That’s a fifth faster than the previous record set by a team in Japan.
The exploit took place in a laboratory at UCL where the researchers used a much wider range of wavelengths compared to what is typically used in optical fiber (spectral bandwidth of 16.8 THz vs. 4.5 THz).
To achieve this, the team developed new geometric shaping (GS) constellations (patterns of signal combinations that make the most of the various properties of light) and combined several amplification technologies to increase power. signal on larger data channels.
Better yet, by upgrading amplifiers along fiber routes, existing infrastructure can be upgraded for a fraction of what it would cost to lay new cable.
Those interested in diving deeper are encouraged to consult the researchers paper on the subject, “Optical Fiber Capacity Optimization via Continuous Bandwidth Amplification and Geometric Shaping”, published in the journal IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.