Wireless transmission at data rates of around 45gbps could one day be commonplace, some engineers say. \u201cFiber-in-air\u201d is how the latest variant of 5G infrastructure is being described. To get there, a Britain-funded consortium of chip makers, universities, and others intend to aggressively investigate the exploitation of D-Band. That part of the radio spectrum is at 151-174.8 GHz in millimeter wavelengths (mm-wave) and hasn\u2019t been used before.\nThe researchers intend to do it by riffing on a now roughly 70-year-old gun-like electron-sending device that can trace its roots back through the annals of radio history: The Traveling Wave Tube, or TWT, an electron gun-magnet-combo that was used in the development of television and still brings space images back to Earth.\n\nD-Band, the spectrum the researchers want to use, has the advantage that it\u2019s wide, so theoretically it should be good for fast, copious data rates. The problem with it though, and the reason it hasn\u2019t thus far been used, is that it\u2019s subject to monkey-wrenching from atmospheric conditions such as rain, explains IQE, a semiconductor wafer and materials producer involved in the project, in a press release. The team says attenuation is fixable, though. Their solution is the now-aging TWTs.\nThe group, which includes BT, Filtronic, Glasgow University, Intel, Nokia Bell Labs, Optocap, and Teledyne e2v, has secured funding of the equivalent of $1.12 million USD from the U.K.\u2019s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). That\u2019s the principal public funding body for engineering science research there.\nTapping the power of TWTs\nThe DLINK system, as the team calls it, will use a high-power vacuum TWT with a special, newly developed tunneling diode and a modulator. Two bands of 10 GHz, each will deliver the throughput, explains Lancaster University on its website. The tubes are, in fact, special amplifiers that produce 10 Watts. That\u2019s 10 times what an equivalent solid-state solution would likely produce at the same spot in the band, they say. Energy is basically sent from the electron beam to an electric field generated by the input signal.\nDespite TWTs being around for eons, \u201cno D-band TWTs are available in the market.\u201d The development of one is key to these fiber-in-air speeds, the researchers say.\nThey will include \u201cunprecedented data rate and transmission distance,\u201d IQE writes.\nThe TWT device, although used extensively in space wireless communications since its invention in the 1950s, is overlooked as a significant contributor to global communications systems, say a group of French researchers working separately from this project, who recently argue that TWTs should be given more recognition.\nTWT\u2019s are \u201cthe unsung heroes of space exploration,\u201d the Aix-Marseille Universit\u00e9\u00a0researchers say in an article on publisher Springer\u2019s website. Springer is promoting the group's 2019-published paper in the European Physical Journal H in which they delve into the history of the simple electron gun and magnet device.\n\u201cIts role in the history of wireless communications and in the space conquest is significant, but largely ignored,\u201d they write in their paper.\nThey will be pleased to hear it maybe isn\u2019t going away anytime soon.