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Better, stronger, faster? Researchers set new world record for internet speed

Taylor Gadsden

Sep 19, 2020 — 2 min read

Your internet is fast, but is it 178 Tbps fast?

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Researchers at the University College of London (UCL) have set a new record for the fastest internet speed in the world. How fast is it? Oh, just 178,000,000 Mbps — fast enough to download the entire Netflix library in less than a second.

The record was achieved by a team led by lecturer at UCL and Royal Academy of Engineering research fellow, Dr. Lidia Galdino, and was close to the theoretical limit of data transmission set in 1949.

Galdino’s team deployed these record-setting speeds on existing infrastructure using a bandwidth of 16.8 THz. Typical infrastructures in use today utilize a limited spectrum bandwidth of 4.5 THz.

“While current state-of-the-art cloud data-centre 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,” Galdino said. 

How does it work?

Researchers transmitted data through a larger range of wavelengths than used in a regular fiber-optic connection. They also developed brand new Geometric Shaping constellations in order to maximize speeds and boost signal strength over that extra-large bandwidth. 

Not only is it ultra-fast, but UCL researchers also cite affordability as a crucial benefit of the new technique since it can be deployed over existing infrastructures. Instead of investing in new optical fiber network expansion (for what would be about 28 times the cost), work can be done to upgrade the amplifiers that are located on existing fiber routes for a fraction of the price. 

Although internet traffic has continued to increase over the past decade, Dr. Galdino cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a key reason for growth in data demand.

“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.”

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Taylor Gadsden

Written by:

Taylor Gadsden

Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Taylor is a veteran member of the Allconnect content team and has spearheaded a number of projects, including a data piece on the top fiber cities in the U.S. and a troubleshooting guide … Read more