New Fibre Breaks Petabit-Per-Second Data Barrier

The fibre, developed in Australia and Japan, is slightly narrower than standard fibre-optic cable but has 12 times the capacity

Researchers in Australia and Japan have succeeded in transmitting more than a petabit per second of data down an optical fibre slightly narrower than existing fibres used for internet data transmission.

The new fibre carries the equivalent of 12 existing fibre cables, said Dr. Simon Gross of the Photonics Research Centre at Australia’s Macquarie University.

The “world-first” breakthrough is aimed at addressing what Gross called an imminent “capacity crunch” stemming from the rise in popularity of applications such as on-demand streaming services and big data analytics.

The new fibre is also suitable for the introduction of 5G services, Gross said.

Speed boost

“For the first time, we have created a realistic and useable-sized fibre which is resilient and can transport huge amounts of data,” he said.

The university developed a coupler used in the experiment, which used fibre jointly developed by Japan’s Hokkaido University and Fujikura Ltd.

The test used a transmission system developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japan (NICT).

Current fibre has one optical path, or core, supporting one optical signal, or mode. The new fibre boosts capacity by offering four cores and three modes.

Previous work on space multiplexing technology, boosting the number of cores or modes in fibre, had until recently run into difficulties boosting the number of communications pathways without increasing the diameter of the fibre.

Larger fibres are more easily broken and are less reliable.

Capacity crunch

The new fibre’s narrower diameter also means it can be cabled and connected using existing equipment, Gross said.

“The world’s insatiable demand for data means that we are approaching a ‘capacity crunch’ and need to find new ways to transport ever-larger volumes,” he said.

The fibre would be suitable for transmitting data between data centres, across metropolitan networks and in undersea communications cables.

“This technology promises a solution to the bottleneck created by existing optical fibres,” Gross said.

He added that the link is 12 million times faster than the fastest connection over Australia’s national NBN broadband network.