Researchers Squeezed Breakneck 44.2 Tbps Through Ordinary Fiber Optic Cables

A team of scientists used a "micro-comb" to achieve a connection roughly 1 million times faster than an average user's internet speed.
Brad Bergan

Modern cable and fiber optic internet connections allow us to browse the web at home, play online games, stream videos, and keep our businesses running smoothly. But while content grows more complex and cumbersome, the world needs even faster internet speeds. This is why, researchers in Australia developed an internet connection capable of reaching 44.2 terabits per second, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

If this is too abstract for relating, consider the average user's internet speed, which in the U.S. is roughly 50.2 megabits per second — roughly 1 million times slower than the breakneck speed of the researchers.

'Micro-comb' takes fiber optics to a new extreme

The Australia-based team consists of researchers from Swinburne, Monash, and RMIT universities, and achieved the wildly fast connection via an optical device called a micro-comb in place of a standard bunch of roughly 80 lasers found in modern telecom equipment.

A micro-comb "generates very sharp and equidistant frequency lines in a tiny microphotonic chip," according to the post on Phys. This unique technology is compatible with other fiber optic lines, which could mean that this new device could be implemented without a complete overhaul of existing internet pipelines. "What our research demonstrates is the ability for fibers that we already have in the ground [...] to be the backbone of communications networks now and in the future," said Monash University's Bill Corcoran.

44.2 Tbps could help businesses in IoT, cloud computing

While at present most internet users don't need a 44.2 Tbps connection. But this wildly fast speed might help businesses leverage greater internet speeds while adapting to the rise of developments like IoT and cloud computing.

Additionally, due to the ever-more-complex nature of web content compounded by the wholesale shift of consumer industries to online service, there's not much time before average users need much faster connection speeds to surf the web.

Apart from this impressive feat, another team from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT, Japan) achieved the world's first transmission exceeding 1 petabit per second at 125 Tbps in January 2021. Not soon after, Japan shattered another record achieving 319 Tbps in July 2021.

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