UCL researchers have set a new record for the fastest ever data rate by achieving 1.125 Tb/s for optical transmission systems. This result is a milestone as it shows that terabit per second optical communications systems are possible. With this connection, you’d be able to download the entire run of Game of Thrones in HD with the process taking less than a second.
It was done by using coding techniques which are common in wireless comms, but not yet widely employed in optical communications, to help ensure that transmitted signals adapted to distortions in the system.
Robert Maher from UCL, 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 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).
For comparison this is almost 50,000 times greater than the average speed of a UK broadband connection, the current speed defining “superfast” broadband.
Ways were investigated to improve the optical network infrastructure to support the explosion of digital content, cloud and e-health services and IoT.
The researchers built an optical communications system with 15 transmitting channels and a single receiver. Each of the 15 channels carried an optical signal of different wavelength which were modulated, combined and sent to a single optical receiver for detection.
By grouping the channels together, the team created a ‘super-channel’ which although not yet commercially available, is widely believed to be a way forward for the next generation of high-capacity communication systems.
“Super-channels are becoming increasingly important for core optical communications systems, which transfer bulk data flows between large cities, countries or even continents. This ultimately resulted in us achieving the greatest information rate ever recorded using a single receiver,” said Maher.
In this study, the researchers connected the transmitter directly to the receiver to achieve the maximum data rate. They will now test the system and measure the achievable data rates in a long distance transmission scenario where optical signals can become distorted as they travel through thousands of kilometres of optical fibres.