What’s your upper limit for a super-fast internet connection? Probably, 100Mbps, 1Gbps, or maybe 1000Gbps. In any case, prepare your mind to be blown away because a team of researchers has clocked internet speeds higher than our brains can comprehend.
The new high for the world’s fastest internet is now 178,000Gbps (178 Tbps). Yes, you read that correctly. For reference, the optical fiber-enabled data centers we have right now are capable of transmitting data at speeds of 35Tbps.
This feat was achieved by a team of researchers at University College London led by Dr. Lidia Galdino in collaboration with Xtera and KDDI Research.
The internet speed is enough, for instance, if you want to download the entire Netflix library at once, that too, in less than a second.
It’s also almost four times the internet speed recorded by a team of Australian researchers at 44.2Tbps in May this year.
As explained in a blog post, the researchers used much wider wavelengths than those used in existing optical fiber systems and settled for a spectrum bandwidth of a whopping 16.8THz. In comparison, our currents systems offer a bandwidth of 4.5THz, and 9THz commercial bandwidth has just arrived.
To make things more interesting, the internet speed is close to the theoretical data transmission limit given by American mathematician Claude Shannon in 1949.
The speed is enough to download the first image of a Black Hole in less than an hour. In reality, the image was stored on many hard drives and transported via a plane.
The news comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, and people work from home and entertain themselves via the internet. Hence, we see services getting disrupted and streaming companies reducing their video quality to compensate for the extra load.
Such a massive boost could be beneficial to our internet infrastructure. However, we should consider the fact that the overall internet demand has only risen over the decades.
Dr. Gadlino said that they are “working with new technologies that utilise more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fibre bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second.”
According to the blog post, it’s possible to cost-efficiently improve the existing infrastructure with the help of the new technique by upgrading the amplifiers located on optical fiber routes at 40-100km intervals. That would be way cheaper than laying new optical fiber cables.