German Academics Set World Record In Wireless Data Transmission


Radio links capable of transferring 40 Gbps could revolutionise rural broadband deployment

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (FIAF) and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) have managed to transmit data over the air at a speed of 40 Gbps – fast enough to send a full DVD in under a second.

The experimental device that has set a new world record for wireless connectivity broadcasts at ultra-high frequency of 240 GHz, and has been tested over a distance of one kilometre (0.62 miles).

Scientists involved in the project say that in the future, this kind of technology could close gaps between ultrafast fibre networks and help rural communities connect to the Internet.

For comparison, the speed of the fastest W-Fi solutions currently on the market is limited to 300 Mbps with th eIEEE 802.11n standard, and a promise of going to faster speeds with the IEEE 802.11ac spec.

Who needs fibre

According to the FTTH Council Europe, Germany currently lags behind its neighbours in fibre network adoption. To help close the gap, researchers from two German universities have developed a fully integrated electronic transmitter and receiver technology that could replace ‘Fibre-to-the-Home’ in instances when putting down cable is not economically viable.

The 240 GHz wireless transmission prototype

The € 2 million quest to create an alternative to fibre is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“We have managed to develop a radio link based on active electronic circuits, which enables similarly high data rates as in fiber-optic systems, therefore allowing seamless integration of the radio link,” explained professor Ingmar Kallfass, project leader at Fraunhofer IAF.

The technology developed at FIAF allows the use of ultra-high frequencies with active transmitters and receivers in the form of integrated circuits. There’s an additional benefit to working with such frequencies: since the size of circuits and antennae scales with wavelength : using the range between 200 and 280 GHz requires a device that measures just 4 x 1.5 mm.

According to researchers, the atmosphere shows especially low attenuation in this frequency range, and the technology has already been tested with distances over one kilometre.

“This makes our radio link easier to install compared to free-space optical systems for data transmission. It also shows better robustness in poor weather conditions such as fog or rain”, explained Jochen Antes of KIT.

The new wireless transmitters work well in conjunction with fibre optic networks, since the fibre signal can be transcoded directly into a radio link without additional energy consumption. It can then be transcoded back into fibre.

“Improving the spectral efficiency by using more complex modulation formats or a combination of several channels, i.e. multiplexing, will help to achieve even higher data rates,” added Antes.

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