Imagine downloading a 1GB movie in about 0.2 milliseconds. That could very well be a possibility after a team of researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), were able to transmit 43 terabits (Tb) per second over a single optical fiber with just one laser transmitter.
To give you a better idea of the speeds here, 43Tbps equals a transfer rate of around 5.4 TB per second, somewhere around 5,300 GBs. We won’t fault you for reading that sentence twice. In contrast, the previous record was 26 terabits per second set by Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2011.
The important thing to note here is that DTU managed to break the record over a single optical fiber with one laser transmitter. Theoretically, it’s possible to achieve speeds way in excess of DTU’s record, but that flies in the face of Internet infrastructure, which is primarily built around a single-laser single-fiber setup.
DTU did bend some of the rules, using a multi-core fiber while still only using a single laser. The multiple individual channels in a multi-core fiber can carry their own optical signal. DTU used a seven-core fiber line, produced by Japanese telecom giant NTT. In fact, NTT is going ahead with commercial deployment of said multi-core fiber in Japan. Currently, the fastest commercial network speed maxes out at just 100Gbps, so if DTU’s technique is indeed commercialised, we could have considerably faster Internet speeds in the near future. Large-scale adoption will be glacial, so it will be a while before 43Tbps lines become commonplace.