Researchers Just Set a New Record For Data Transmission Speed

Even if you have lightning-fast broadband at home, no matter where you are in the globe, you'll be a long way behind the new world record for data transmission: 1.02 petabits per second.

Every second, a million gigabits are transferred along a line. A team from Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) established the record by sending data over 51.7 kilometers (32 miles).

To put it another way, there's enough bandwidth here to concurrently broadcast not just one 8K video channel, let alone a hundred or thousand 8K video feeds. That's a lot of Netflix to consume.

One of the most fascinating parts of the new data transmission speed record is that it was set utilizing an optical fiber network identical to those used for internet infrastructure today. According to the experts, this should make future increases to this level of speed much easy.

Only a year ago, researchers from the same institute were achieving maximum speeds that were a third of what they are today, demonstrating the technology's tremendous advancement.

The experiment employed a 0.125 mm multi-core fiber (MCF) with wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) as the secret ingredient: Signals of multiple wavelengths are delivered across the line at the same time using this technique. There were a total of 801 parallel wavelength channels on the same line.

Another breakthrough was the use of four cores instead of one, thereby quadrupling the number of data paths while maintaining the same cable size as a typical optical fiber line. Other optimization, signal enhancing, and decoding methods were also used by the researchers.

There's always a balance between distance and speed in specialized tests like this one — high speeds are difficult to maintain over longer distances. In its future study, the team hopes to enhance both transmission speed and transmission distance.

While the same team of researchers achieved the petabit milestone in December 2020, they did it with more complex technologies that took more time to encode and decode the signals. The approach employed in this scenario is simpler to apply in actual physical networks and more similar to existing infrastructure.

With 5G networks continuing to roll out throughout the world, the future looks bright for electronics connected to an always-on, high-speed internet connection – even if the number of devices that need to connect to the internet continues to grow at a rapid pace.

"Beyond 5G, an explosive increase of data traffic from new information and communication services is expected and it is therefore crucial to demonstrate how new fibers can meet this demand," according to a NICT news statement.

"It is hoped that this result will help the realization of new communication systems able to support new bandwidth hungry services." 
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