178Tbps: the new Internet Speed world record

178 Terabits per second is the new Internet Speed world record, achieved by a team of engineers at University College London (UCL).

178 Terabits per second: 178,000,000 Megabits per second

This new record sets the world’s fastest Internet Speed at 178Tbps. It was achieved by the research team led by Dr Lidia Galdino at UCL, which worked together with two companies (Xtera and KDDI Research).

“While current state-of-the-art cloud data centre interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilise more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fibre bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second.”

—Dr Lidia Galdino, Lecturer at UCL and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow

The new world record is close to the theoretical limit of data transmission established by the Shannon-Hartley theorem.

Wider wavelengths and bandwidth, and amplifiers

For achieving this new record, researchers used a much wider range of wavelengths than commonly used in optical fiber and a bandwidth of 16.8THz —nowadays, the most common spectrum bandwidth is 4.5THz. They boosted the signal over this wider bandwidth by combining different amplifier technologies. 

According to the researchers, this new technique can be relatively easily deployed on current infrastructures by upgrading the amplifiers located on optical fiber routes at 40-100Km intervals. Its deployment would be more cost-effective than completely replacing the current infrastructure, since upgrading an amplifier is about 28 times less expensive than installing a kilometer of optical fiber. Although it wouldn’t enable achieving a speed of 178Tbps, it would allow improving current speeds.

The previous Internet Speed world record

The previous record was achieved in April 2020 by a team of experts at Japan’s NICT (National Institute for Communications Technology). This team achieved an Internet Speed of 172 Terabits per second transmitted over a distance of 2,040Km.

The Internet Speed world record compared to current broadband speeds

Both records are outstanding if we take into consideration that the current average global Internet Speed is 81.46Mbps in fixed broadband and 34.51Mbps in mobile broadband. Nowadays, Singapore holds the first position in the world’s fixed broadband ranking with a 213.18Mbps average speed and the United Arab Emirates hold the first position in the world’s mobile broadband ranking with a 110.90Mbps average speed.

As for the countries where we have our data centers, the average speed in Netherlands is 119.92Mbps in fixed broadband and 71.22Mbps in mobile broadband; placing it, respectively, in the 25th and 6th position of the world’s ranking. The average speed in Spain is 142.33Mbps in fixed broadband and 33.56Mbps in mobile broadband; placing it, respectively, in the 13th and 58th position of the world’s ranking.

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