The world’s fastest internet is now over 1 million Gbps

Researchers have achieved new internet speed records, achieving a connection of more than 1 million Gbps – or 1 petabits per second. Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology announced the new record, increasing their previous record set in December 2020 that touched 1 Pbps, but this speed was now sustained.

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This was done using 15-mode optical fibre, which is not currently used in your standard fibre-to-the-home connection. It required complex multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) digital signal processing to unscramble data signals multiplexed during transmission. This technology cannot be applied in commercial use in its current state, as this MIMO needs dedicated integrated circuits which isn’t feasible at scale.

It is a world apart from the fastest available commercial fibre connection, which is now 25 Gbps in New Zealand. However, the researchers have said that they believe their tech could be compatible with conventional fibre infrastructure with some tinkering. They believe it could address the explosive increase in data traffic from information and communication services beyond 5G.

Through wide-band wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology, the researchers enabled 801 parallel wavelength channels, giving them access to a record 20THz optical bandwidth. That consisted of 335 wavelengths in the S-band, 200 in the C-band, and 266 in the L-band, each providing 25GHz.

Distance is another obstacle they had to overcome. The researchers used mixed optical amplification systems to account for data loss over distance, which meant they could transmit at 1.02 petabits per second over 51.7km. That is equivalent to 1.02 million Gbps per second — a million times faster than the fastest Internet speed available to South African home fibre users.

While there is still a lot of work to do to make this kind of internet tech commercially viable, the industry never stands still and we can expect internet speeds to see another significant jump within the next couple of years.