Japanese engineers have just smashed the world record for the fastest internet speed, they achieved a data transmission speed of 319 Terabits per second (Tb/s). The new world record was made on a line of fibres more than 1,864 miles (3,000 km) long.
It's nearly double the previous record of 178 Tb/s, which was set in 2020 and seven times the speed of the earlier record of 44.2 Tb/s, set with an experimental photonic chip. The new record soars way above what ordinary consumers can use which maxes out at 10 Gb/s for home internet connections.
The record was achieved with a fibre optic infrastructure that already exists with a few advanced add-ons. The engineers used four "cores" which are glass tubes housed within the fibres that transmit the data, instead of the conventional standard core. The signals are broken down into several wavelengths sent at the same time using a technique known as wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). To carry even more data they used a rarely-employed third "band", extending the distance via several optical amplification technologies.
The new system begins its transmission process with a 552-channel comb laser fired at various wavelengths. This is then sent through dual polarization modulation, such that some wavelengths go before others, to generate multiple signal sequences — each of which is in turn directed into one of the four cores within the optical fibre. Data transmitted via this system moves through 43.5 miles (70 km) of optical fibre until it hits optical amplifiers to boost the signal for its long journey. But there's even more complexity: The signal runs through two novel kinds of fibre amplifiers, one doped in thulium, the other in erbium, before it continues its way, in a conventional process called Raman amplification, after this, signal sequences are sent into another segment of optical fibre, and then the entire process repeats.
Crucially, the new four-core optical fibre has the same diameter as a conventional single-core fibre, bracketing the protective cladding around it, making the integration of the new method into existing infrastructures far simpler than other technological overhauls to information systems.
We’re nearing an age where the internet speed of the twenty-teens and early 2020s will look incredibly slow by comparison!