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Researchers just set a new data transmission speed record

Even if you enjoy gloriously fast broadband at home, wherever you live in the world, you’ll still be way behind the new data transmission record: an incredible 1.02 petabits per second.

That’s a million gigabits moved over a line every second. The record was set by a team from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan, transmitting the data over 51.7 kilometers (32 miles).

In other words, there’s enough bandwidth here to transmit not just one 8K video stream, or a hundred or a thousand 8K video streams, but 10 million 8K video streams simultaneously. That’s a lot of Netflix.

One of the exciting things about the new data transmission speed record is that the researchers achieved it using a fiber optic network that is no different from those currently used for Internet infrastructure. According to the researchers, this should facilitate future upgrades to this type of speed.

Just a year ago, researchers at the same institute were getting top speeds about a third of what they have now, showing the rapid development of the technology.

The experiment used a 0.125mm diameter multi-core fiber (MCF), with wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) acting as the magic ingredient: this technology means that signals of different wavelengths are sent simultaneously on the line. A total of 801 parallel wavelength channels have been grouped in the same line.

Another innovation was to use four cores instead of the standard, essentially quadrupling the routes for the data to take, while keeping the cable the same size as a standard fiber optic line. The researchers also applied various other optimization, signal amplification and decoding technologies.

A table comparing data transmission experiences. (ICT)

In specialized experiments like this, there is usually a balance between distance and speed – high speeds are harder to maintain over long distances. The team plans to continue improving both transmission speed and transmission distance in future research.

While the same group of researchers passed the petabit milestone in December 2020, they used more complicated technology that required additional work to encode and decode the signals. The system used in this case is easier to implement in real physical networks and more closely resembles the infrastructure that already exists.

As 5G also continues to roll out around the world, the signs are good for a future of gadgets connected to an always-on high-speed internet connection, although the number of devices needing to connect continues to grow rapidly.

“Beyond 5G, an explosive increase in data traffic from new information and communication services is expected and it is therefore crucial to demonstrate how new fibers can meet this demand”, according to a press release from NTIC. .

“It is hoped that this result will help in the realization of new communication systems capable of supporting new bandwidth-intensive services.”

The research was presented in May at the International Conference on Laser and Electro-Optics (CLEO) 2022.