New Data Rate Speed Record: 26 Terabits per second

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I remember when we first started running data over UTP cabling – and categories were developed to distinguish what data rates copper cable could handle (Cat 1 for voice, Cat 2 for data transfer of 4 mbps or less, etc).  The move to fiber optic cable, and higher data rates in telecommunications technologies over past years has been significant. So, should I find it fascinating to read a story of how researchers set a new transfer rate record of 26 terabits per second over fiber optic cable? I couldn’t quite conceive what this really meant until I read this: “At those speeds, the contents of nearly 1,000 high-definition DVDs could be sent down an optical fibre in a second – or the entire Library of Congress collections could be sent in 10 seconds.”

Although this is still in the experimental stages, and the laser technology behind this kind of speed is cost prohibitive, its continued development is eminent as we continue to see the “need for speed” and bandwidth increase through applications like cloud computing, virtual reality and 3-D Hi-definition TV.  

The technology behind the speed is called the “fast Fourier transform” which, simply put, encodes data in each different color found in a single laser beam (it seperates more than 300 colors in a single beam of light). Read more about this technology on the nature photonics page, or read this article on the BBC website.

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