UCL engineers announced they had achieved the fastest data transmission rate in the world; scoring an Internet speed one-fifth higher than the previous record.
In cooperation with two companies, “Xtera” and “KDDI Research”, the researchers —under Lydia Galdino (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering)— achieved a data transmission rate of 178 terabits per second (178,000,000 megabits per second); a speed at which it would be possible to download the entire “Netflix” library in less than a second!
This record —which has twice as much “capacity” as any other system currently used in the world— was achieved through the transmission of data through a wider range of light colors (wavelengths) than those typically used in fiber optics. The current infrastructure uses a limited wavelength of 4.5 THz, with commercial systems of 9 THz entering the market, while the researchers used a bandwidth of 16.8 THz!
To achieve this, the researchers combined different amplifier technologies needed to boost signal strength within this broader “bandwidth” and maximized speed by developing new GS “constellations” (Geometric Shaping; signal combination patterns to make the best possible use of light properties). What they did exactly is described in a new scientific article in the “IEEE Photonics Technology Letters”.
The benefit of the technique is that it can be used in existing infrastructures at no great cost, upgrading the amplifiers that exist on fiber optic routes at distances-“breaks” of 40-100 km.
According to UCL, the new record is 1/5 higher than the previous world record set by a team in Japan; at this speed it would take less than an hour to download the data that constitutes the first image of a “black hole” in the world (which, due to its size, had to be stored on half a ton of hard drives, transported by plane!). This speed is also close to the theoretical data transmission limit set by the American mathematician Claude Shannon in 1949.
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