Dire download speeds are something many of us have become used to but things could be about to get infinitely faster. Boffins at Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities have tested and recorded some ludicrously fast internet speeds capable of downloading 1,000 high definition movies in a split second.
The research took place in Australia and is now the quickest ever recorded speed in the country – in fact, it could also be the fastest ever seen in the world. Crucially, the speeds were recorded outside of the lab using the existing infrastructure used by millions of broadband customers in Australia.
It’s hoped that the new technology will fast-track the next 25 years of Australia’s telecommunications capacity, but also the possibility for this home-grown technology to be rolled out across the globe.
Due to technical constraints, demonstrations of this magnitude are usually confined to a laboratory. But for this study, researchers achieved these incredible speeds using existing communications infrastructure where they were able to efficiently load-test the network. To make this happen, the researchers used a new device that replaces 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment known as a micro-comb, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware.
Australia is currently placed 62nd in the world ranking of global internet speeds, with an average download speed of 43.4 Megabits per second (Mbps). This is almost five times slower than Singapore’s lightning-quick average download speed of 197.26 Mbps.
This speed is only just behind the UK with Brits currently subjected to downloads that average just 66.99Mbps. Both countries clearly need a boost and this new technology could do just that.
“We’re currently getting a sneak-peak of how the infrastructure for the internet will hold up in two to three years’ time, due to the unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socialising and streaming. It’s really showing us that we need to be able to scale the capacity of our internet connections,” said Dr Bill Corcoran, co-lead author of the study and Lecturer in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University.
“What our research demonstrates is the ability for fibres that we already have in the ground, thanks to the NBN project, to be the backbone of communications networks now and in the future. We’ve developed something that is scalable to meet future needs.
“And it’s not just Netflix we’re talking about here – it’s the broader scale of what we use our communication networks for. This data can be used for self-driving cars and future transportation and it can help the medicine, education, finance and e-commerce industries, as well as enable us to read with our grandchildren from kilometres away.”
The fastest available speeds in the UK currently come from Virgin Media with its Gig1 service offering downloads of over 1Gbps – that fast enough to beam a full HD movie to your TV in 45 seconds.
However, using its next-generation of broadband, researchers were able to send maximum data down each channel, simulating peak internet usage, across 4THz of bandwidth allowing thousands of movies to be download in just a few seconds.
Professor Moss, Director of the Optical Sciences Centre at Swinburne University, said: “In the 10 years since I co-invented micro-comb chips, they have become an enormously important field of research.
“It is truly exciting to see their capability in ultra-high bandwidth fibre optic telecommunications coming to fruition. This work represents a world-record for bandwidth down a single optical fibre from a single chip source, and represents an enormous breakthrough for part of the network which does the heaviest lifting. Micro-combs offer enormous promise for us to meet the world’s insatiable demand for bandwidth.”