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Forget about broadband: ultra-broadband internet is almost here

(Image credit: UCL)

A team of scientists from University College London have discovered a way how to dramatically increase data transfer rates over fiber-optic cables. 

The new discovery, if implemented, could radically increase bandwidth of backhaul networks and ultimately internet speeds at homes leading to new and improved ultrafast broadband deals

The research team led by Dr Lidia Galdino have managed to transfer data ‘in a greater range of colors’ than is usually used in optical fiber cables to significantly increase data transfer rates. According to the scientists, they achieved a record 178.08 terabits per second (Tbps) speed over a 40km single mode optical fiber loop in a lab.

New record

The scientists used hybrid discrete Raman & rare-earth doped fiber amplifiers to enable wide-band signal gain without spectral gaps between amplification bands. The researchers said that to cope with a significant SNR wavelength-dependence (which was a result of fiber parameters and the hybrid amplification method), they had to optimize signal for each SNR, wavelength, and transmission band. 

178.08Tbps equals to 22.25TB/s, which is over 222 Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. To put the number into a more appropriate context, Google’s Faster cable between Japan and the U.S. West Coast transfers data at a speed of 60Tbps and cost $300 million to build several years ago. 

If the method discovered by the UCL team is can be implemented in a commercially viable way, it could be practical for building backhaul networks used to connect 4G and 5G towers, datacenters, stores, and homes. 

Potentially, it means that providers can offer higher speeds for wireless and wired broadband deals. Unfortunately, it is unclear when this might happen.

Sources: IEEE Photonics Technology LetterEvening StandardUCL