The record speed was achieved by researchers at the University College London.

Network cable for internet Image for representation
Atom Internet Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 14:31

A record Internet transmission speed of 178 terabits per second (tbps) has been achieved by a team of engineers at the University College London (UCL). At this speed, it would be possible to download the entire Netflix content in just one second. 

The team comprised Dr Lidia Galdino (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering) who was the lead researcher, in partnership with two companies, Xtera and KDDI Research. 

The current speed is four times faster than the previous highest Internet speed of 44.2 tbps, which was recorded in May in Australia. 

In that instance, researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities successfully tested and recorded the fastest internet data speed from a single optical chip.

However, the current internet speeds were achieved by transmitting data through a much wider range of colours of light, or wavelengths, than is typically used in optical fibre.

Researchers combined different amplifier technologies needed to boost the signal power over this wider bandwidth and maximised speed by developing new Geometric Shaping (GS) (patterns of signal combinations that make best use of the phase, brightness and polarisation properties of the light), and tweaking the properties of each individual wavelength. 

The advantage of this technique is that it can be deployed on already existing infrastructure cost-effectively, by upgrading the amplifiers that are located on optical fibre routes at 40-100 km intervals.

At this speed, it would take under an hour to download the data that constituted the world’s first image of a black hole. 

The current speed achieved is close to the theoretical limit of data transmission set out by American mathematician Claude Shannon in 1949.

Dr Galdino said: “Independent of the COVID-19 crisis, internet traffic has increased exponentially over the last 10 years and this whole growth in data demand is related to the cost per bit going down. The development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend towards lower costs while meeting future data rate demands that will continue to increase, with as yet unthought-of applications that will transform people’s lives.”

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