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The Bandwidth of the Future


A team of researchers at Bell Laboratories has reportedly developed a new technique for sending data farther and faster along fiber-optic lines, the physical infrastructure that forms the backbone of the internet. This is a big step. Researchers have long feared that there might be a limit to the speed and distance data can be transmitted over fiber-optic cables. But this new technique may allow us to improve on the infrastructure we already have.

According to the BBC, the technique neutralizes distortions picked up during transmission in much the same way that noise-canceling headphones block sound. As a result, the researchers were able to overcome fiber-optic limitations:

The team used the technique to send a signal of 400Gb/s—four times faster than the best commercially available speeds—down 12,800km of optical fibre, farther than even the longest trans-oceanic fibre link.

In case we needed any more proof, these researchers have shown us once again that the pace of the information revolution is not slowing down. Technological developments like this will over time reshape the global economy—and if anything they feel like they’re coming faster and faster with each passing day.

[Binary digits photo courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Fat_Man

    “there might be a limit to the speed … data can be transmitted over fiber-optic cables”

    The speed of light is ~300,000 Km/s in all frames of reference. It not possible to go faster than that.

    C, it’s not just a good idea. It is the law.

    • Jim__L

      The rate at which that light can be resolved into data is subject to both hardware and software technology, which is subject to improvement because they haven’t got it right yet. Maybe they’ll get it right in the near future (at which point the progress will slow or stop), or maybe they won’t get it right for another few decades.

      In any case, the salient point is a quibble between “speed” and “rate”. I’m not sure it’s worth editing the piece just to correct that.

      By the way, I hope you enjoyed the new Star Trek movie as much as I did, and you’re having as much fun tearing apart its physical, logical, and dramatic inconsistencies as I am. 😉

  • Plinky

    Can you explain why this is so important in something other than broad techno-utopian terms? Will this actually have any have impact on the economy, or just add a few tenths of a percent to telco profit margins sometime in the future because they won’t have to lay new cable as soon?

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