Researchers in Australia have achieved a world record internet speed of 44.2 terabits per second, allowing users to download 1,000 HD movies in a single second.
A team from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities used a “micro-comb” optical chip containing hundreds of infrared lasers to transfer data across existing communications infrastructure in Melbourne.
The highest commercial internet speed anywhere in the world is currently in Singapore, where the average download speed is 197.3 megabits per second (mbps).
In Australia, the average download speed is 43.4 mbps – 1 million times slower than the speeds achieved in the latest test.
“There’s a bit of a global race on at the moment to get this technology to a commercial stage, as the micro-comb at its heart is useful in a really broad range of existing technologies,” Dr Bill Corcoran from Monash University, told The Independent.
“I’d guess that we could see devices like ours available to research labs in two to three years, and initial commercial use in about five years.”
The coronavirus lockdown has placed significant strain on internet infrastructure in recent months.
In Europe, streaming providers were asked to degrade their services in March in order to cope with increased traffic. Netflix and YouTube were among those who agreed to reduce picture quality for users.
Implementing the micro-comb device would alleviate this problem, according to the researchers.
“In the UK, daytime data demands have more than doubled, and there have been special efforts to make sure that connections are reliable,” said Dr Corcoran.
“What this extra usage gives us is a sneak-peek at capacity issues networks will see in just a few years time – especially as we start bringing on line data hungry tech such as 5G, self-driving cars and the ‘internet of things’ more broadly.
“So, we’re going to need new compact technologies like our fingernail-sized device to expand the data carrying capacity of our networks gracefully – to reduce space and power consumption, as well as costs, while increasing overall data rates. Our demonstration also shows that the device we produced is compatible with the optical fibre infrastructure that is already in place.”
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on Friday.
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