Record-breaking fiber transmits 20x global internet traffic per second
Everybody feels like they could use a faster internet connection, and now engineers in Japan have shattered the record for data transmission. The team managed to transmit more than 20 times the global internet traffic per second through a single optical fiber.
If you’re one of the lucky few people to be connected to the world’s fastest consumer internet connection, you’ll be enjoying a breezy 10 gigabits per second (Gb/s). A bigger group is running a 1-Gb/s connection, while most of us get by on a few hundred megabits per second.
But now, Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) has clocked an absolutely insane data transmission rate of 22.9 petabits per second. To put that in perspective, a petabit is one million gigabits, so that’s fast enough to transmit the entire internet’s second-by-second traffic 22 times over with bandwidth left over. Even NASA only gets 46 terabits per second, or 0.046 Pb/s.
To reach this milestone, NICT took advantage of a few emerging technologies. Instead of just one core for transmitting data, the cable contains 38, each of which can transmit data in three modes for a total of 114 spatial channels. Each mode in each spatial channel is made up of 750 wavelength channels across three bands (S,C and L), for a bandwidth of 18.8 THz.
Altogether, that adds up to a data transmission rate of 22.9 Pb/s, which is more than twice the previous record, set in 2020. The team says that optimizing the error correction could allow the system in its current form to reach speeds of up to 24.7 Pb/s.
However, don’t expect to be streaming the entirety of Netflix in fractions of a second in the near future. Decoding the data involves complex signal processing, which would require specialized devices called MIMO receivers to be installed throughout networks. In the shorter term, a four-core version that only transmits data in one mode per core is compatible with existing infrastructure, and still manages a respectable data speed of over 1 Pb/s.
The research was presented at the European Conference on Optical Communication in Scotland in October.