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London-Based Experts Break World Record For Fastest Ever Data Transmission Speed

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

London-Based Experts Break World Record For Fastest Ever Data Transmission Speed

Featured Image Credit: University College London

Engineers have successfully achieved a world record for the fastest ever data transmission rate.

Not only did they surpass the record, the team from University College London absolutely obliterated it, achieving a speed that is a full fifth faster than the previous effort.

So, the UCL team managed to hit a rate of 178 terabits per second, which - if you want to get that into terms that are understandable - would allow you to download the entire Netflix catalogue in less than a second.

That's a ridiculous speed.

Imagine having every single title on Netflix at your fingertips - forever - in just longer than the blink of an eye.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The previous record was 172 terabits per second, achieved by the boffins at the Japanese National Institute for Communications Technology earlier this year in April.

In case you're interested, the London-based team managed to achieve this strange and incredible feat by transmitting their data through wider wavelengths than are used by optical fibres.

This means that while traditional means use 9 Terahertz (THz), the UCL folks were transmitting across 16.8THz.

Got all that? Well, it is pretty technical stuff, to be fair.

The team started out by combining a load of different amplification methods that allowed them to boost the signal power over a wider bandwidth before maximising the speed using new Geometric Shaping (GS) constellations - signal patterns that utilise the phase, polarisation, and brightness of light the best - to manipulate wavelengths on an individual basis.

Yep, all of that and more.

Honestly, it's actually irrelevant whether you understood that sentence at all, but it's worth noticing they chose this technique because it can be easily added to current infrastructure with minimal upgrades.

In fact, only the amplification equipment would need to be upgraded, meaning the whole thing would cost just over £16,000 ($21,000) instead of the £450,000 ($590,000) that upgrading the cables would cost.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The lead author behind this UCL study Dr Lidia Galdino said: "While current state-of-the-art cloud data-center interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilise more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fibre bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second."

This is all very useful, especially given the fact that many people are still working from home, and the internet has become more vital than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Galdino added: "Independent of the Covid-19 crisis, internet traffic has increased exponentially over the last 10 years, and this whole growth in data demand is related to the cost per bit going down.

"The development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend towards lower costs while meeting future data rate demands that will continue to increase, with as yet unthought-of applications that will transform people's lives."

Topics: Science, World News, UK News, Internet, Technology, London

Tom Wood
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