Researchers reach data rates 50,000 times faster than home Internet

optical fiber
Credit: Flickr/Groman123

Scientists boast the new data transfer rate they've reached could download the entire HD version of the Game of Thrones series in one second.

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Researchers from University College London claim to have reached a data rate of 1.125 terabits per second, the fastest data rate ever recorded between a single optical transmitter and a receiver, according to an article on the university's website.

It's quick enough to download the entire high-definition Game of Thrones series in one second, the scientists claim.

'Super-channels'

A way of combining carriers into what the scientists call a "super-channel" is key to obtaining the speeds. Super-channels are used for sending bulk data between cities and continents, they explain.

But, in this case, the super-channel handles distortion better than has been accomplished before. That's something scientists have been trying to achieve, and is necessary for the faster speeds.

Nonlinear distortion and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) has always constrained practical fiber communication throughput, the scientists say in a paper published in Nature. 

Adapting

Their system fixes some of these problems by using multiple channels, and by encoding the signals in such a way as they adapt "to distortions in the system electronics," the university article explains.

They use unique coding techniques that are "commonly used in wireless communications, but not yet widely used in optical communications," the article goes on to say.

One outstanding issue is how to scale the transmission over distance. Long distances increase distortion. The team intends to test and measure data rates in a long-distance setting as part of the next step.

Grouping

Different wavelengths are used for the optical signals in each of 15 channels that make up a "super-channel."

The channels are then modulated using 256QAM—a format used in cable modems—combined, and delivered directly from the transmitter to a single optical super-receiver for detection.

The grouping of the 15 channels results in the "super-channel." Special optimization of it, and the super receiver, obtaining the entire super-channel in "one go," provides the high throughput.

Super-channels, of the kind they're using, "which although not yet commercially available, are widely believed to be a way forward for the next generation of high-capacity communication systems," the article goes on to say.

"Using a single receiver varies the levels of performance of each optical sub-channel so we had to finely optimize both the modulation format and code rate for each optical channel individually to maximize the net information data rate," says Dr. Robert Maher of the university's Electronic & Electrical Engineering department, in the article.

"This ultimately resulted in us achieving the greatest information rate ever recorded using a single receiver," he says.

Fastest rate

The speeds are fast. For comparison, the speed obtained, 1.125 Tbps, "is almost 50,000 times greater than the average speed of a UK broadband connection."

That's based on "24 Mbps, which is the current speed defining ‘superfast' broadband," Maher, a UK-located scientist says.

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