Internet speed world record smashed by researchers

A team from the University College London (UCL) has shattered the internet world record speed, achieving a data transmission rate of 178 terabits a second, a speed fast enough to download the entire Netflix library in less than one second.

The research team, led by Dr Lidia Galdino, electronic and electrical engineering, UCL, worked with two companies (Xtera and KDDI Research ) and achieved the 178,000,000 megabits per second speed by transmitting data through a wide range of colours of light (wavelengths) than is traditionally used in optical fibre, combining different amplifier technologies to boost the signal power over the wide bandwidth. 

The speed was maximised by developing new geometric shaping (GS) constellations, manipulating the properties of each individual wavelength. 

The technique can be deployed on existing infrastructure by upgrading amplifiers, located on optical fibre routes at 40-100km intervals. 

UCL estimates an amplifier upgrade at £16,000, with costs for new optical fibres in some urban areas reaching as high as $450,000 per kilometre. 

The record was demonstrated in a UCL Lab, allegedly a fifth faster than the previous world record set by a team in Japan. 

Galdino commented: While current state-of-the-art cloud data-centre interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilise more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fibre bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second.”

“Independent of the Covid-19 crisis, internet traffic has increased exponentially over the last 10 years and this whole growth in data demand is related to the cost per bit going down. The development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend towards lower costs while meeting future data rate demands that will continue to increase, with as yet unthought-of applications that will transform people’s lives.”
 

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