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Researchers Push 44.2Tbps Over Fibre via a Single Light Source

Friday, May 22nd, 2020 (4:02 pm) - Score 2,193

Australian researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT Universities have broken a new record after they hit a fibre optic data speed of 44.2 Terabits per second (Tbps) by using a single light source. Better yet this feat was achieved using 76.7km of existing Dark Fibre communications infrastructure, rather than a lab test.

We’ve seen fibre optic data speeds go much faster than 44.2Tbps before but this one is special because of how applicable it could be to existing networks and how it was achieved. The team essentially replaced 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment – known as a micro-comb – from Swinburne University (SU), which acts like a rainbow made up of hundreds of high quality infrared lasers from a single chip (i.e. smaller and lighter).

NOTE: Each infrared laser on the chip can be used as a separate communications channel.

The test itself, which was conducted on a fibre optic cable between RMIT’s Melbourne City Campus and Monash University’s Clayton Campus, represents the first time that any micro-comb has been used in a proper field trial (the fibre optic network was designed to mirror that used by Australia’s National Broadband Network [NBN]).

The researchers were then able to send the maximum data down each channel, simulating peak internet usage, across 4THz of bandwidth.

Professor Moss, Director of the Optical Sciences at SU, said:

“In the 10 years since I co-invented micro-comb chips, they have become an enormously important field of research.

It is truly exciting to see their capability in ultra-high bandwidth fibre optic telecommunications coming to fruition. This work represents a world-record for bandwidth down a single optical fibre from a single chip source, and represents an enormous breakthrough for part of the network which does the heaviest lifting. Micro-combs offer enormous promise for us to meet the world’s insatiable demand for bandwidth.”

The future ambition of the project is to scale up the current transmitters from hundreds of “gigabytes per second” towards tens of “terabytes per second” without increasing size, weight or cost. Such integrated photonic chips would thus enable these speeds to be achieved across existing optical fibre links with only minimal cost.

Initially this sort of technology would probably be better for primary fibre links between data centres (national connectivity) and international connectivity between countries, although the team said they could “imagine this technology becoming sufficiently low cost and compact that it could be deployed for commercial use by the general public in cities across the world.”

We might be awhile away from see 1Tbps+ broadband to the home, but the possibility does exist for the future.

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Sayers says:

    Criky I am amazed!, does Moore’s Law apply here, or has this been broken?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      It doesn’t apply here, no.

      Are you thinking of the Shannon–Hartley theorem perhaps?

    2. Avatar Chris Sayers says:

      @CarlT thank you for helping out a doddery old fool, its amazing and sad how thick I’ve become scince leaving IT 3 years ago.

  2. Avatar Neb says:

    How much power does it use?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      1.21 Jiggawatts.

    2. Avatar -- says:

      “What the Hell’s a Jiggawat!?”

    3. Avatar The Doc says:

      We just need a bolt of lightning to hit our router to use the Internet.

    4. Avatar CarlT says:


  3. Avatar KevinL says:

    Irony is Australia’s NBN is so bad, we may be able to sell this overseas?

  4. Avatar chris conder says:

    If they want to trial it on a proper fibre network we have altnets in the UK who could do it. Unlike NBN and OR whose networks run mainly on copper phone lines?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      This kind of technology is for really large networks carrying huge amounts of traffic. Altnets whose entire load would fit on a single 100G port with room to spare aren’t really the target market.

    2. Avatar The Facts says:

      Networks run mainly on copper? As usual the B4RN spokesperson has no idea of how networks are designed.

  5. Avatar Billy Bob says:

    44.2Tbps? How many football fields is that? Or are the correct units Libraries of Congress?

  6. Avatar chris conder says:

    Agreed Carl, but for experimental purposes only a few altnets have entirely pure fibre networks? testing in labs is one thing, real life is another. Hence many on FTTC superfarce are still on less than a meg… and revert back to adsl to get 1.5 meg.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      The access networks are irrelevant. There is plenty of dark fibre available to BT / Openreach to do tests and they’re pretty active in optical research.

      They’ve more premises with full fibre available than anyone else too so are in a good place for testing full fibre access solutions.

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