Japan breaks a record: 1.02 petabits per second in fiber optic transfer speed

Fiber optics has allowed us to achieve transfer speeds that once would have seemed practically impossible. However, we must be aware that everything has a limit, a ceiling from which in the end it is impossible to pass, and that ends up marking the moment in which it begins to be necessary to replace one technology with another.

In this sense, fiber optics is no exception, since there is a finite amount of data that can be entered and compacted to be sent by light by this means, but this has not prevented a group of Japanese scientists break down a new barrier and break the previous record for fiber optic data transfer speed.

This week a group of researchers from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan managed to reach the 1.02 petabits per seconda figure that exceeds the previous record by 10 terabits per second, and which was obtained in December 2020. For comparison purposes, it is also three times faster than the result obtained by the NICT in the long distance test they carried out in June from last year.

To better understand what this achievement entails, it is necessary to specify what we could do with a bandwidth of 1.02 petabits per second. This number would allow us transfer data at a rate of 127,500 gigabytes (GB) per second, enough to maintain more than 10 million channels with 8K resolution. Yeah, it’s just awesome.

According to the researchers, the technique they used to achieve this enormous transfer speed is compatible with the infrastructure that uses fiber optics today, although the cable they used for this test has four fiber optic cores instead of just one. However, it is said that an adaptation of the technology could be made to receive and read the data by a single core, which would avoid having to completely change all the existing wiring.

To improve speed, what is known as “wavelength division multiplexing” (WDM) has been used, which increase bandwidth to 20 THz. The wiring is divided into 801 wavelength channels over the standard C and L bands and the experimental S band. Also key to this important achievement was the use of new signal modulation and optical amplification technologies, which made it possible to increase the signal and keep it stable.

In the coming months we may see a new speed test that increases the maximum bandwidth obtained in it, since after all this could be achieved in a relatively simple way: increasing the bandwidth to more than 20 THz.

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