We all love super-fast, smooth internet services, and for the most part, if you live in a metropolitan city, you would be able to get your hands on a reasonably fast fiber broadband service that gives you 300 Mbps bandwidth on average. This can take care of literally all your streaming needs, including streaming 4K content on multiple devices. Researchers, however, are never satisfied with things being just about good enough, which is why we have laboratories in universities around the world that seek to achieve faster internet speeds than ever seen before. That’s exactly what the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan have now set, scaling up the fastest internet speed record in the world to a whopping 319 TERAbits per second.
First, the tech — to hit this record, the researchers at NICT chose to innovate with the fiber optic cable right at the onset. Typical fiber broadband cables have one core (which carries the data at breakneck speeds for you), surrounded by a lot of insulation to protect that core and make sure that the data transmission does not break. In this transmission, the Japanese researchers used an experimental cable that used four cores instead of the usual one, along with a similar amount of insulation around. It is this that the researchers believe is the most crucial bit of innovation, and it may help push higher data throughputs leading to faster internet speeds in future.
To be frank, though, don’t go around expecting a 319 Tbps network at your home any time soon. As the published research reveals, to achieve this speed, the team used a 552-channel comb laser and beamed it at multiple wavelengths to initiate the data exchange. It further used rare earth mineral amplifiers to sustain the data at this speed for a prolonged, simulated distance — a stretch of 3,001km, apparently. While this too remains too expensive and elaborate a process in comparison to viable commercial technology, what’s encouraging to note is that the 319 Tbps data transmission was clearly doable and durable too.
It’s important to note that while this technology isn’t cheap, it most likely does not need to be — at least right away. The researchers state that they expect this sort of technology to be used in areas such as long range industrial data transmission, such as terrestrial space exploration data exchanges, which may require super instantaneous data exchanges of vast troves of data to increase the efficiency of missions. It’s not exactly the kind of technology that would help us stream cat videos better on YouTube, for the present fiber broadband services already offer enough speed to let you watch content at high frame rates and peak resolutions, without any buffering. In other words, consumer internet services are already fast enough to suit the present crop of displays.
The real win for research projects such as these lie in how they would impact the future of communications. It is likely that there will be a time in future when a 319 Tbps internet connection is no longer a surprise, even though it is, at the moment, over 10 million times faster than the internet connection at my home. The new record shatters the previous one, of 178 Tbps, by a huge margin, which makes this feat even more impressive. The entire paper can be read here, so head along if you wish to know more about the exact new fiber cable technology.