UCL scientists attain record 178 Tbps single fibre speed

Scientists at University College London’s (UCL) Optical Networks division have released a research paper detailing the successful use of “hybrid discrete Raman and rare-earth doped fibre amplifiers” in attaining a record single fibre speed of 178.08 Tbps (Terabits per second) over a 40 kilometre distance. The previous record speed stood at 150.3 Tbps.

The experimental UCL amplifiers “enable wide-band signal gain, without spectral gaps between amplification bands.” The experiment involved the use of a continuous , ultra-wideband (16.83THz) transmission window to achieve a speed that is close to three million times faster than the internet speed in the average UK home. The speed test involved sending computer-generated bits in a 40 kilometre (25 mile) fibre optic loop around the team’s laboratory in Bloomsbury, London.

Dr Lidia Galdino, who lead the UCL team, said that the team had “managed to achieve the highest bandwidth that has ever transmitted through the internet. I think the societal benefit is clear – fast internet for all and a more productive economy. It’s important because internet traffic and data has been increasing exponentially over the last 10 years but we have reached the theoretical limit.”

"The one other way to increase the capacity in optical fibre is increasing the range of wavelengths and colours that we can use, which is exactly what I’ve done. This is underpinning the next generation of communication systems.”

Dr Galdino said that “ultra broadband”, such as the speeds generated by the UCL team, would go on to shape the future of the internet, as well as supporting the 5G networks needed to support emerging technologies such as driverless cars and smart cities. If the technology were to ever be deployed commercially, it would likely require customised signal-boosting amplifiers at least every 25 miles.

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