The Internet is part of our lives now and we crave faster and faster internet each year. Commercial Internet is limited in bandwidth, but that that is not the case for researchers. Universities have the carte blanche to push the tech forward and that is what they have done.
University College London (UCL) recently announced that they have set a new world record internet speed. They worked with two companies (Xtera and KDDI Research) where they reached a data transmission rate of 178 terabits a second.
That is a mind boggling number by any measure. Considering a typical home internet of 10Mbps, the researchers achieved 178,000,000 Mbps. That means the data rate was 17.8 million times faster than that home setup. They claim that that ridiculous speed is possible to download the entire Netflix library in less than a second. This new record is a fifth faster than the previous world record held by a team in Japan.
The 178Tb/s number is mind boggling if you compare it with Kenya’s international bandwidth. According to the Communications Authority, Kenya’s available international bandwidth is 7.123 Tb/s which is a fraction of that.
How were they able to do this?
UCL was able to do this by transmitting data through a broader range of light wavelengths than typically used on fiber. Current infrastructure uses the 4.5Thz bandwidth while the researchers use the 16.8Thz bandwidth. The researchers also combined different amplifier technologies needed to boost the signal power over this wider bandwidth.
They claim that this technique can be deployed on already existing infrastructure cost- effectively. Apparently upgrading an amplifier would cost £16,000 (Kshs 2.27 million). Compare this with installing new optical fibers in urban areas which cost like £450,000 (Kshs 63.84 million) a kilometer.
Such advancements in data speeds are becoming more critical in our lives. COVID-19 pandemic led to a 60% increase in internet traffic compared to before.