University College in London has set a new top internet speed record of a mind-numbing 178Tbps. That’s 20% faster than the previous internet speed record. There are 8 bits in a byte, so that means that this new speed record reached speed of well over 20 terabytes per second. That’s 4 and a quarter DVD’s worth of data, every second.

While traditional fiber networks use light in the 4.5 to 9 Terahertz range, this project used a much higher frequency than that: 16.8THz.

According to a press statement put out by UCL, customization packages known as ‘geometric signal constellations’ were used in order to make this possible. The researched used several different amplifier technologies of which each was tailored for use at a specific frequency.

According to paper published in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, the type of amplifiers that can get this kind of thing done are referred to as ‘Raman & rare-earth doped’ fiber amplifiers. They are capable of using the C, S, and L-bands all at once.

UCL lecturer and lead author of the paper, Dr Lidia Galdino said,
‘We are working with new technologies that utilize, more efficiently, the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fiber bandwidth.’

The researchers explained that upgrading the amplifiers in existing optical networks could allow their concept to be put into practice. The thing these amplifiers are laid every 25 to 60 miles along fiber optic cable runs. That’s a lot of amplifiers to replace. It’s important to note, however, that the cost of replacing all those amplifiers turns out to be about to be over 90% cheaper than replacing the fiber infrastructure.

The new record-holding internet speed test was performed over an almost 25 mile span of optical cable.

The COVID-19 had change societyies patterns significantly and that has led to a huge increase internet bandwidth usage with some carriers seeing as much as a 60% uptick. Lidia Galdino said, ‘But, 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.’

She went on to say, ‘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.’

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