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Internet speeds 1.2 million times faster than the US average are possible using the current fibre optic cable network. How does 301,000,000 Mbps sound?

 Fibre optics shooting past electronics of broadband hub.
Fibre optics shooting past electronics of broadband hub.

Underneath my road lies a cable on which, like many, my whole digital world relies. Fibre optic cables have become increasingly standard for modern high-speed internet connections, but even these super-highways of speed are limited in their capacity. Thanks to the work of some British researchers, however, those very same cables may be able to provide connection speeds that are massively faster than those we currently rely on.

A team of scientists and researchers at Aston University have developed an optical processor that takes advantage of previously untapped frequency bands, allowing standard fibre cables to transmit data at a much higher speed than previously thought (via Fudzilla). The researchers managed to achieve a data transfer rate of up to 301 terabits per second through standard fibre optic cables, pointing to a potential future where our home connection speeds could achieve speeds previously thought unfeasible without having to modify cables already installed.

The average broadband speed in the UK as of last year was said to be 69.4 Mbps, or megabits per second, whereas the median speed in the US was quoted as 242.38 Mbps in February of this year. The touted 301 terabits per second equates to a staggering 301,000,000 Mbps, which means this new speed would be around 4.5 million times faster than an average UK connection, and 1.2 million times faster than a US connection.

Currently, fibre cables utilise what are referred to as "C" and "L" bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. The new optical processor, however, makes use of the previously untapped "E" and "S" bands to take advantage of huge amounts of previously unused capacity.

The processor's creator, Dr Ian Phillips, said: "Over the last few years Aston University has been developing optical amplifiers that operate in the E-band, which sits adjacent to the C-band in the electromagnetic spectrum but is about three times wider. Before the development of our device, no one had been able to properly emulate the E-band channels in a controlled way."

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Professor Wladek Forysiak, a member of the team developing the new tech, added: "This ground-breaking accomplishment highlights the crucial role of advancing optical fibre technology in revolutionising communication networks for faster and more reliable data transmission."

"It is also a 'greener solution' than deploying more, newer fibres and cables since it makes greater use of the existing deployed fibre network, increasing its capacity to carry data and prolonging its useful life & commercial value."

Anything that prevents more digging up of my street is fine by me, particularly if it means connection speeds that dwarf the figures I currently receive. In a world where fast data-streaming is less a luxury and more a necessity for many of us in day-to-day life, huge levels of increased speed without major disruption strikes as an innovation worth shouting about.