Super Fast: Teams Develop Optical Fiber Cables That Carry Data Faster Than 100 Terabits A Second
By on May 2nd, 2011

Now that’s fast. Two independent groups have developed fiber optic cables capable to transferring data at an incredible rate of 100 Terabits per second. This unbelievable speed is far greater than anything available today.

Just to give an idea of what 100 Terabits (or about 12 Terabytes) per second means, take this example. An HD movie with a running time of about 2 hours has a size of about (or less than) 4 Gigabytes (GB). 1 Terabyte (or TB) equals roughly 1000 GB. Thus, you could download 250 HD movies, each running for 2 hours, in one second!! That’s a running time of 500 hours, there being 720 hours in one month! Even if you watched 5 of these movies a day (an unrealistic rate, by any estimate), you could go on like that for 50 days after just 1 second of download.

Even the busiest optical line in the world, that between Washington D.C. and New York, experiences a maximum speed of a few Terabits per second.

Optical cable



How they did it

The first team, from Japan’s NIICT, led by Jun Sakaguchi, adopted a simple strategy. They developed an optical fiber having seven optical cores, completely insulated from one another. Each of these could carry 15.6 TBits/s. The information would then be read and processed at the end of the communication line. The total speed thus achieved was 109.2 TBits/s.

The second team, from NEC Global’s R&D, led by Dayou Quan, took a more complicated route. They fed in packets of information from 370 lasers (as light pulses) into a single optical fiber core. The lasers each had different positions in the Infrared Spectrum, as well as different polarizations, amplitudes and, importantly, phases. This ensures that the signals don’t interfere with each other. Using this technique, the team transferred data across 165 kilometers (!) at a speed of 101.7 Tbits/s.

New World?

The path is being paved for a world which craves for more data and information. Even then, 100 Tbits/s is more than anyone asked for or needs. Is this the beginning of a world where all forms of entertainment come in 3-D?

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Author: Debjyoti Bardhan Google Profile for Debjyoti Bardhan
Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.

Debjyoti Bardhan has written and can be contacted at

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