Researchers at University College London (UCL) have set a record for the fastest ever data rate for digital information. As part of research focusing on testing the capacity limits of optical transmission systems the team of researchers from the optical Networks Group achieved a data rate of 1.125 Tb/s. The research the team performs is part of efforts to increase the available data speeds for network systems in homes and businesses.
The lead researcher on the project is Dr. Robert Maher from UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Dr. Maher said, “While current state-of-the-art commercial optical transmission systems are capable of receiving single channel data rates of up to 100 gigabits per second (Gb/s), we are working with sophisticated equipment in our lab to design the next generation core networking and communications systems that can handle data signals at rates in excess of 1 terabit per second (Tb/s).”
Maher notes that the speed his team achieved in the lab is about 50,000 times greater than the average speed of broadband in a UK home. That average broadband speed in UK homes is currently about 24 Mb/s. Maher puts the 1.125 Tb/s speed in perspective with the tidbit that at such high speeds you could download the entire HD series Game of Thrones in about a second.
To achieve such high data speeds, the team of researchers applied coding techniques used in wireless communications that aren’t commonly used in optical communications. The optical system was constructed in lab facilities at the university and used fifteen channels each carrying an optical signal of different wavelength modulated using 256QAM format common in cable modems. The channels were then grouped together into a “super-channel” in a technique that isn’t commercially available right now. The next step for the team is to test the data speeds during long distance communications.