According to a paper released in the open-access journal Nature Communications, researchers based at Australia’s Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities say they have set a new Internet speed record of 44.2 Tbps. That is technically quick enough to access, in a single second, the contents of more than 50 100 GB Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
What’s noteworthy about the study is that a single optimized chip source has been used to reach over 75 km of conventional optical fiber, suggesting it has the ability to support current fiber networks one day.
The prototype fiber connection ran between the Melbourne City campus of RMIT and the Clayton campus of Monash University and the researchers say it parallels technology used by the National Broadband Network of Australia (NBN). The results reflect a “bandwidth world record,” according to one of the accountable team leaders, Swinburne University Professor David Moss.
“What our research demonstrates is the ability for fibers that we already have in the ground, thanks to the NBN project, to be the backbone of communications networks now and in the future. We’ve developed something that is scalable to meet future needs,” said the study’s co-lead author and Bill Corcoran, lecturer at Monash University.
Thanks to a piece of technology called a micro-comb, which provides a more powerful and lightweight way to transfer data, these speeds were achieved. This microcomb was mounted within the fibers of the cable in what the researchers claim is the first time the device is used in a field trial.
Today, the researchers say the goal is to turn the invention into something for current resources that can be used. “Long-term, we hope to create integrated photonic chips that could enable this sort of data rate to be achieved across existing optical fiber links with minimal cost,” says RMIT professor Arnan Mitchell.
Nonetheless, it’s doubtful you’ll be playing games or watching videos anytime soon over a 44.2 Tbps network. Whether the system ends up being commercialized, the researchers say it is likely to be used first for linking data centers. Gigabit Internet services have been available for years, after all, and seeing them in private homes is still fairly rare. But if the device is inexpensive enough then the researchers hope the general public will one day be able to afford it.