Researchers in Japan have demonstrated the astonishing rise in the speed at which data can be transferred over the Internet.

Indeed, the engineers from Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) announced they had set a world record when they demonstrated a long distance data transmission at speeds of 319Tbps over 3,001 km or 1,864 miles.

Remember, it was only back in 2012 that researchers in Germany broke the data transmission speed record, when they sent data at 512Gbps from Berlin to Hanover and back.

World record

In August 2020, a team of UCL engineers set the world’s fastest data transmission rate of 178Tbps (terabits a second) – a speed at which it would be possible to download the entire Netflix library in less than a second.

But now the engineers at Japan’s NICT have obliterated that old record.

“NICT has built a long-distance transmission system around a 4-core optical fiber with a standard cladding diameter to exploit wider transmission bandwidth of >120nm across S, C and L-bands,” said the NICT researchers.

“The system exploits wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) and a combination of optical amplification technology to enable long-haul transmission of 552 WDM channels from 1487.8 nm to 1608.33 nm,” they added.

“The system was used to measure achievable transmission throughput with each channel modulated with PDM-16QAM modulation at distances up to 3,001 km, where a data-rate of 319 terabits per second was achieved,” they concluded.

Fibre future

Speeds such as this, while nowhere achievable for many in today’s world, is a demonstration of why fibre optic networks are still regarded as the future of connectivity, and not wireless technologies such as 5G.

At the moment, most fibre optics deliver speeds of up to 1 or even 10Gbps (gigabits per second), but some institutions such as NASA for example utilise speeds of up to 400 Gbps.

And NICT said it has not stopped its development.

“NICT will continue to develop wide-band, long-distance transmission systems and explore how to further increase transmission capacity of low-core-count multi-core fibers and other novel SDM fibers,” it said.

“Further, we will work to extend the transmission range to trans-oceanic distances,” it concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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