Fiber breakthrough will run networks 100x faster

A kind of twisting of light beams, within a fiber optic cable, rather than the sending of them linearly will let computer systems, and the internet overall, run faster, according to researchers who have just announced new findings. The group reckon they could speed up the internet a hundred-fold using the twisted technique.

“What we’ve managed to do is accurately transmit data via light at its highest capacity in a way that will allow us to massively increase our bandwidth,” Dr. Haoran Ren, of Australia’s RMIT University, said in a press release.

The corkscrewing configuration, in development over the last few years and now recently physically miniaturized, uses a technique called orbital angular momentum (OAM).

I wrote about this spiral concept a few years ago: Scientists then obtained speeds of 2.56 terabits per second (2,560 gigabits per second) using light wave signals spun into a corkscrew shape. They found that that an open-air experiment they had tried was unwieldly, though. So, researchers then migrated the technique to the more manageable medium of radio. There they obtained 32 gigabits per second.

RITT, however, says it can now import OAM spirals into fiber, and do it economically, in part because it has miniaturized the equipment needed. It claims this will make OAM fundamentally viable and make it usable in conventional, existing data links.

“It fits the scale of existing fiber technology and could be applied to increase the bandwidth, or potentially the processing speed, of that fiber by over 100 times within the next couple of years,” Professor Min Gu, of the school, said. “This easy scalability and the massive impact it will have on telecommunications is what’s so exciting.” Fiber isn’t going anywhere. Even if radio becomes more important, such as in 5G networks, fiber is still needed for backhaul.

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