April 20, 2024

Image for article titled Scientists somehow made the internet go 4.5 million times faster

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There’s nothing more frustrating than a bad internet connection, but researchers out of Aston University may have just solved that problem forever. A new method allowed scientists in the UK to send data 4.5 million times faster than average broadband, setting a new world record.

In partnership with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan and Nokia Bell Labs in the United States, Aston researchers were able to transfer data at a rate of 301,000,000 megabits per second using standard optical fiber. That’s compared to the average UK broadband performance at 69.4 megabits per second. In the United States, average download speeds are faster, averaging 242.4 Mbps, but the breakthrough is still over a million times faster.

The feat was achieved by using new wavelength bands that aren’t used in traditional fiber optic systems. The new wavelength bands are equivalent to “different colors of light being transmitted down the optical fiber.”

“Broadly speaking, data was sent via an optical fiber like a home or office internet connection,” said Aston researcher Ian Phillips in a press release. “However, alongside the commercially available C and L-bands, we used two additional spectral bands called E-band and S-band. Such bands traditionally haven’t been required because the C- and L-bands could deliver the required capacity to meet consumer needs.”

Aston University developed an optical amplifier that allows data wavelengths to operate in the E-band, which researchers say is about three times wider than traditional wavelengths used for data transmission. Before this breakthrough, no one was able to emulate E-band channels in a controlled way.

The solution is remarkable because it does not require new infrastructure to drastically improve internet speeds, and could allow significantly faster internet speeds through existing fiber cables.

The breakthrough could be a revolution in internet speeds across the spectrum of users. If implemented widely, this new and faster internet could help give access to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have reliable internet. For average internet users, it could make downloading movies and large files near instantaneous. For large business and tech researchers, it could accelerate development speeds multiple times over.

A version of this article originally appeared on Gizmodo.

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