Japanese researchers at NIICT have succeeded in transferring data at a rate of 319 terabits per second over more than 3 km. More importantly, their technology is compatible with modern fibre optic networks.
However, this performance is not dependent on a revolutionary new material; it is based on the same fibre optic technology already present in our infrastructure. Instead of using a single fibre channel, the research team relied on a technique called wavelength-division multiplexing, or WMD.
The idea is based on a combination of several fibre optic 'cores'. This means that the signal can be distributed to different bands at the same time. This avoids having a single fibre carry the entire load, which in particular generates interference.
To achieve this record speed, the Japanese researchers used an optical fibre with four 'cores', and made use of a third 'highway' for the signal; in addition to the two usually used in this type of application, they also used the S-band. They also subjected the signal to two new types of amplification, before undergoing the normal amplification process.
What makes this work so disturbing is its practical feasibility. The outer diameter of the team's proposed fibres is exactly the same as that of a standard fibre optic cable. This has a major implication. In order to switch from current networks to this type of technology, there would be no need to replace the entire infrastructure; the new one is already compatible with the old one.
Of course, there are technologies that can go much higher, but this technology is only usable in niche cases. The NIICT technology, on the other hand, is directly applicable to the current network.
For the researchers, this very important feature "demonstrates the potential of standard compatibility fibres in the short-term implementation of very high speed fibre networks". Incredible as it may seem, the speeds to which we have access today may seem ridiculous much sooner than we think!
Source : Journal du Geek