We are on the verge of a technological revolution.
According to a paper presented at the International Conference on Optical Fiber Communications in June, engineers in Japan have just broken the world record for the fastest internet speed, achieving a data transmission rate of 319 Terabits per second (Tb/s). On a line of fibers more than 1,864 miles (3,000 km) in length, the new world record was set and broken. And, perhaps most importantly, it is compatible with today’s cable infrastructure. This has the potential to completely transform everything.
The new data transfer method divides signals into different wavelengths, which allows for more efficient data transfer. Keep in mind that we cannot emphasize enough how fast this transmission speed is. In comparison, the previous record of 178 Tb/s, which was set in 2020, is nearly twice as fast. Furthermore, it is seven times faster than the previous record of 44.2 Tb/s, which was set with an experimental photonic chip. In fact, NASA itself operates at a comparatively low bandwidth of 400 Gb/s, and the new record soars impossibly high above the bandwidth available to ordinary consumers (the fastest of which is 10 Gb/s for home internet connections).
As if this monumental achievement needed no further validation, the record was set using already-existing fiber optic infrastructure (but with a few advanced add-ons). Instead of the conventional standard core, the research team used four “cores,” which are glass tubes enclosed within the data-transmission fibers. The signals are then divided into multiple wavelengths and transmitted concurrently using a technique called wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). To transmit more data, the researchers employed a rarely used third “band,” extending the distance via a variety of optical amplification technologies.
The new system initiates transmission with a 552-channel comb laser firing at a range of wavelengths. This is then modulated with dual polarization to generate multiple signal sequences, each of which is directed into one of the optical fiber’s four cores. The system transmits data over 43.5 miles (70 kilometers) of optical fiber until it reaches optical amplifiers that boost the signal for the long journey. However, there is an additional layer of complexity: The signal is amplified by two novel types of fiber amplifiers, one doped with thulium and the other with erbium, before continuing on its way via a process known as Raman amplification.
The world’s data infrastructure is about to undergo a transformation.
This is followed by the transmission of signal sequences into another segment of optical fiber, and then the entire process is repeated, allowing the researchers to transmit data over an incredible distance of 1,864.7 miles (3,001 km). Importantly, the novel four-core optical fiber has the same diameter as a conventional single-core optical fiber, allowing it to be protected by the protective cladding that surrounds it. Therefore, compared to other technological overhauls of societal information systems, the integration of the new method into existing infrastructure will be far less difficult and time-consuming.
It is because of this that the new data transfer speed record is so impressive. It’s not just that the researchers in Japan have blown the previous world record for 2020 out of the water; they’ve done so with a novel engineering method that can be easily integrated into today’s fiber optic infrastructure with minimal effort. In terms of signal speed and data transfer, we’re on the verge of reaching a point where the internet of the twenty-teens and early 2020s will appear barbaric in comparison to what we have now. It’s a thrilling time to be alive right now.