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Scientists achieve world-record broadband speeds 50,000 times the UK average

Friday, February 12th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Researchers at University College London (UCL) have recorded broadband speeds 50,000 times faster than the UK’s average connection.

The university’s Optical Networks Group found a way of sending data over a fibre cable at 1.125 terabits a second – the fastest data rate ever recorded over a single connection.

At that speed, an entire series of Game of Thrones could be downloaded in HD in less than a second, the scientists said.

Dr Robert Maher, who led the research, said the speeds achieved are far greater than those the fastest current technologies are capable of – around 100Gbps.

“We are working with sophisticated equipment in our lab to design the next generation core networking and communications systems that can handle data signals at rates in excess of 1 terabit per second,” said Dr Maher.

“For comparison, this is almost 50,000 times greater than the average speed of a UK broadband connection of 24Mbps, which is the current speed defining ‘superfast’ broadband.

“To give an example, the data rate we have achieved would allow the entire HD Games of Thrones series to be downloaded within one second.”

The study, published yesterday in the journal Scientific Reports, set out to investigate ways of improving fibre optic networks to support the growth of digital communications and the internet of things.

'Underpins the internet'

To achieve the speeds, the team at UCL used coding techniques usually used in wireless communications to compress information sent over fibre cables.

Professor Polina Bayvel, from the university, said: “This result is a milestone as it shows that terabit per second optical communications systems are possible in the quest to reach ever higher transmission capacities in optical fibres that carry the vast majority of all data generated or received.

“A high-capacity digital communications infrastructure underpins the internet and is essential to all aspects of the digital economy and everyday lives.”

In the study, 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 over longer distances, where signals can become distorted as they travel through thousands of kilometres of optical fibres.

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