Future Technology

Terabit Network Technology, Fiber Optic Upgrades Arriving at the Speed of Light

Terabit Network Technology, Fiber Optic Upgrades Arriving at the Speed of Light
PHOTOGRAPH: Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Virginia Tech | Photo shows fiber-optic communications.

Ever wondered if it is possible to push a few hundred terabits per second down a single strand of glass fiber? Scientific minds think so.

A terabyte is an enormous amount of data. Around 32 terabytes per second can transfer a 1GB movie in a little over 31 microseconds (0.03 milliseconds). Imagine the enormous machine-to-machine data that will be required to drive the autonomous cars of the future.

Three organizations serving as the hotbed of innovation — Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs and the Technical University of Munich — have conducted a trial and breakthrough research that can make terabit speed fiber optic technology upgrade of use to many. The optical communications field trial may amp up the capability of optical networks to meet surging data traffic demands.

The New Modulation Technique

The experiment over a deployed optical fiber network of Deutsche Telekom achieved a net transmission rate of one terabyte. The trial used a new modulation technique that was a key factor in its success.

The trial showed that through Probabilistic Constellation Shaping or PCS, that works by having the system choose networking constellation points with lower amplitudes, data transfer can be more efficient. PCS makes the system less prone to interruption and noise, in contrast to the traditional method that uses all points.

The result of the trial augurs well for the ever increasing demand for core networks and bandwidth, more so as streaming becomes hugely popular. PCS will also help cellular networks roll out 5G in a way that will result in great customer experiences. Given proposed speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G will need all the network infrastructure improvements it can get.

Disruptive Innovation Across the World

The terabit network technology breakthrough may be applied earlier in some countries than in others. Web-based news entity for the Canadian telecom and electronic media industry Cartt.ca tweeted a report on why adapting to disruptive innovation is hard.

It noted that whether it is the move towards superfast broadband speeds or entertainment technologies that are continually being updated, players are struggling to adapt with the times. Innovation is seriously disrupting Canada’s communications sector, yet there are several elements to consider, notably the policies governing telecommunications and the existing infrastructure.

Elsewhere in the world, particularly Scotland is poised to become another world-class digital nation. The Scottish Government Communications team’s official Twitter channel tweeted that the country, through Connectivity Minister Fergus Ewing, “has purposely set the bar high on digital connectivity” beginning with enhancement of its digital infrastructure.  The target – provision of superfast broadband to 100 percent of premises in Scotland by the year 2021.


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