Researchers achieve record-breaking internet speed

Christel Deskins

The new record demonstrated in a UCL lab is five times faster than the previous record held by a team in Japan. Researchers at the University College of London (UCL) have created a record for the fastest internet speed of 178 terabits per second (Tbps). With that speed, the entire […]

The new record demonstrated in a UCL lab is five times faster than the previous record held by a team in Japan.

Researchers at the University College of London (UCL) have created a record for the fastest internet speed of 178 terabits per second (Tbps). With that speed, the entire Netflix library can be downloaded in less than a second.

The new record set by UCL, in collaboration with Xtera and KDDI Research, was shown in a research lab by a team led by Dr. Lidia Galdino, a lecturer at UCL. It is a fifth faster than the previous world record held by a team in Japan.

“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.” Galdino said.

This speed, scientists said, was achieved using a bandwidth of 16.8 THz, much higher than typically used in optic fibre. Researchers used this bandwidth to transmit data through a much wider range of colours of light, or wavelengths, combining different amplifier technologies to boost signal power over this wider bandwidth. They then maximised speed by developing new patterns of signal combinations by manipulating the properties of each individual wavelength.

This technique can be deployed on an already existing infrastructure cost-effectively, simply by upgrading the amplifiers located on optical fibre routes at 40-100 km intervals. The cost of upgrading an amplifier would be only a fraction of installing new optical fibre.

The resilience and capability of broadband networks have become more important after the surge in demand for broadband communication due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, Galdino believes that 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,” she concluded.

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