Everyone wishes they could have a faster Internet connection; it’s no fun waiting for a movie to buffer when you just want to watch it, or for an application download to complete when you need to use that application right now. Scientists are continually workings to make breakthroughs with faster Internet through fiber optic cables so that eventually we will be able to experience speeds that enable us to watch that movie whenever we want to, or download that application without having to factor in waiting for the download to complete.
The latest breakthrough comes from Denmark, where scientists at the Technical University of Denmark (TDU) have successfully transmitted 43 terabits per second over a single optical fibre using a single laser – to put this into real-world terms, with this type of connection speed, you would be able to download 1GB movie in just 0.2 milliseconds. This beats the previous record set by Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2011, which managed to achieve 26Tbps. What makes this breakthrough important is the type of setup that has been used to achieve these speeds; a majority of the Internet’s infrastructure is based around single optical fibres that use a single laser.
With some tweaks to the setup used, such as by adding more fibres or lasers, speeds in excess of those achieved by DTU would be possible, but only theoretically. There would also be the issue that such a setup would contravene the method of development used in much of the Internet’s existing infrastructure. Although DTU did do things a bit differently by using a multi-core fibre, this is still valid; the cable carries multiple individual channels, which each channel capable of carrying its own independent optical signal. The cable was provided by Japanese telecoms giant NTT, and to strength the use-case of this cable further, NTT is to begin the commercial deployment of these cables as the bugs preventing this previously have quite obviously been sorted.
If the development of Internet connectivity services in the UK over the past decade is anything to go by, with speeds increasing from an average of 1Mbps ADSL to 25Mbps fibre in a home environment, technological innovations with fibre mean that we are likely to see these speeds increase hugely over the next decade once more; in the near future we could be seeing commercial connections with speeds in excess of 1Gbps.