Sooner than expected: Broadband 2000 times faster!
The scientists at Bangor University in north Wales have already managed to pump 20 gigabits of data every second – enough to download a full HD movie in 10 seconds.
They are now working on a three-year project to make it commercially viable.
On a simple level, current fibre optic networks work by taking digital data, the zeros and ones that make up computer codes and digital information, and turn it into pulses of light. But as the length of a fibre optic cable increases, and the amount of data being pumped is also stepped up, errors can start to creep in.
The researchers have taken a very different approach to the problem, by tweaking some well-understood technology that is already being used in wireless networks and digital broadcasting.
It is known as the mouthful that is called: Optical Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, or OOFDM.
In Bangor, the process takes raw digital data, converts it to a series of physical electrical waves, and then into an optical signal that a laser can pump down a cable.
The breakthrough is that the team have managed to design the electronic kit that can both code and decode these optical signals on the fly.
So how does that play in the current real world of broadband connections?
Across the world, a handful of cities are now offering 1Gbps connections, such as Kansas in the US, which is part of a pilot by the internet giant Google.
Onboard in this project are microchip experts Fujitsu Semiconductors Europe; the developers of the MPEG video format, Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute; optic fibre innovators Finisar Israel; and VPIsystems, one of the world leaders in network data analysis.
If successful, the system would transform the online world, from e-health to video on demand and gaming. It also gives us a glimpse of what the future holds for us where change is always much faster than anticipated.