Australian researchers have set a new record for Internet speed by transmitting data at 44.2 Tbps. Putting the data in a practical perspective, this speed would allow downloading the content of 50 100GB Ultra HD Blu-ray movies in a single second.
It has rained since 50 gigantic computers located at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), 50 years ago, achieved the first exchange of information between their nodes. The ARPANET network was born, the embryo of the Internet that we know and under the first concepts about “communication networks” that had been published in the late 1950s.
In addition to standardizing protocols such as TCP / IP to create the system of interconnected networks, the manufacture of the first modems or the creation of the “world-wide computer network” that we use today known as the World Wide Web, the performance of the networks has been another concept that has been constantly improving in these five decades.
The Australian research published in Nature is still a laboratory test and it will take at least five years to come up with practical solutions. But it promises and will be able to “accelerate the next 25 years of telecommunications capacity,” explain those responsible. The best thing is that it has been achieved over an existing fiber network and with a single optical chip.
The test connection was made between two Australian universities on a length of 75 kilometers and using a real infrastructure in use, the country’s National Broadband Network. The speed record has been achieved thanks to a chip called a “micro comb” placed inside the fibers of the optical cable. The researchers say this is the first time this technology has been used in a field test.
It is a small optical device that can replace 80 lasers. The researchers describe it “as a rainbow made up of hundreds of high-quality, single-chip infrared lasers.” Each stream of light in that little rainbow can act as an independent communication channel. The light that shines on the micro-comb is wound around a ring to produce 80 beams at various infrared wavelengths.
A next-generation optical modulation format with 500 gigabits per second per wavelength was used. Since each stream of light in that little rainbow can act as an independent communication channel, the 80 wavelengths of the micro-comb combined to form a super optical channel and achieve the Internet speed record exceeding 40 terabits per second.
Very interesting if – as it promises – it can adapt to existing fiber optic networks. The current confinement policy to curb the COVID pandemic is putting brutal pressure on communication networks. and the same operators have suggested rationalizing Internet entertainment to guarantee teleworking in the face of the coronavirus.
With or without pandemics, the increase in activities related to work, study or home entertainment seems unstoppable and if we add what is to come in remote communications for the healthcare, automotive, e-commerce or IoT industries by to name just a few, it is clear that further improvement of Internet infrastructure is necessary.