Breakthrough Enables Downloads 50,000 Times Faster Than ‘Superfast’ Broadband

Breakthrough Enables Downloads 50,000 Times Faster Than ‘Superfast’ Broadband

British researchers simulated download speeds 50,000 times faster than ‘superfast’ 24 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband, breaking a world record. This could have profound ramifications for the business and consumer market.

Fibre and network cables image from Shutterstock

The University College London team achieved speeds of 1.125 terabits per second (Tbps), the highest throughput ever recorded using a single receiver.

To put that in perspective, the National Broadband Network is promising to deliver download speeds of 25Mbps to all Australians by 2020. One terabit is a million megabits, making the speeds in the study 45,000 times faster than the NBN target speed.

Other commercial networks — and other countries — have faster speeds than what NBN is promising, but nothing like what the researchers have achieved.

“While current state-of-the-art commercial optical transmission systems are capable of receiving single channel data rates of up to 100 gigabits per second (or 100,000Mbps ), we are working with sophisticated equipment in our lab to design the next generation core networking and communications systems that can handle data signals at rates in excess of 1Tbps,” said the project’s lead researcher Dr Robert Maher.

The UCL team used 15 super-fast optical fibre channels and a single receiver. However they applied coding techniques commonly used to compress signals over Wi-Fi, but not yet widely used in fibre communications.

“This ultimately resulted in us achieving the greatest information rate ever recorded using a single receiver,” Dr Maher said.

The channels were grouped together to create one “super channel”, which the researchers believe will be the way forward for the internet as the world’s demand for data and speed explodes. “Super-channels are becoming increasingly important for core optical communications systems, which transfer bulk data flows between large cities, countries or even continents,” Dr Maher said.

The team is now testing the setup over longer distances to see how the speeds stack up in the real world, where data can experience distortion due to the sometimes thousands of kilometres it travels via optical fibres.

The research is part of a broader work looking at how to improve internet speeds using fibre optic cables to support the infrastructure needed for the growing use of cloud and e-health services, and the so-called internet of things.

At last count in 2014, Australians’ hunger for data jumped 33 per cent in the year, surpassing an exabyte — more than 9 million terabits.

That jump may prove to have been even bigger for 2015, with the proliferation of popular internet video streaming services like Netflix in the period. Many internet service providers also began to offer special deals with unmetered data for streaming services.

This article originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald.


  • Well over here in Australia the government knows what’s best for its citizens. I mean look at lockout laws, instead of having harsher penalties for bogans that goes out and spoil it for everyone else let’s punish the institutions and the law abiding citizens. Same for the NBN penny wise and pound stupid.

    • All depends on where you stand really. Harsher penalties for drunken behaviour were also implemented, but generally they don’t have much effect because you’re dealing with people too intoxicated to consider the risks and consequences of their actions.

      But speaking as someone who has worked at St Vincent’s Emergency near the Cross and still know plenty that do work there, these laws have been a god send. Before they were implemented the weekends were unmitigated floods of violence in the emergency ward in the hours from 12 till 5, but since the laws have been enacted that has dramatically declined.
      If we were some other country like Japan, where people could just drink without trying to bash the living crap out of eachother, then these laws would seem ridiculous. But we’re not sadly, and if you’d ever worked in a hospital near a nightlife hotspot in Australia you’d understand just how much of a problem we have.

  • Err but this was done through fibre optic cable. The same tech the original Labor NBN. You swap out the bits on each end and voila. Future proof unlike the new copper NBN.

    • Actually this was done directly from transmitter to receiver without any connection medium, trying this through a Fibre Optic Cable, even a short one, is the next step, and may result in a drop of achievable transmission speed.

      Quoting from the Gizmodo US article “There’s a small but, though: In these experiments, the team directly connected the transmitter to the receiver. For their next trick, they’ll have to link the two using optical fibers, which will cause the signal to become distorted as it travels down the line.”

    • Don’t worry there will be plenty of people not even achieving that. As someone who works for NBN I look forward to the day we have to go around fixing it all with fttp and have every customer saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘why weren’t they smart enough to see this coming?’.

    • 25Mbits is nothing, its essentially ADSL2+ speeds. When I got my NBN connected, that’s the plan they signed me up with, I went back to them and switched it to 100Mbps.

      Even then 100Mbps is still slow, they should be offering plans of 250Mbit, 500Mbps or 1Gbps… The plans that are currently being offered by NBN is utterly a joke, for a network that can deliver so much more speed.

  • Optical cables eh? Maybe we should consider connecting every home in the nation to some kind of optic fibre broadband network?

  • You can get a 1Gbps connection in Singapore for like $50/month. Shows how far we’ve come as a nation eh? (I have NBN 100 Mbps BTW, all you “ADSL is good enough for me” people have no idea what bandwidth means).

    • Pretty sure the only people that think ADSL is good enough, are people who don’t use the internet, and our politicians.

    • If you want faster Internet (without breaking the bank), leaving Australia seems to the logical choice. As for destinations, sounds like Singapore should be on the list.
      A roundup comparison of international speeds & prices would make a nice follow up article.

    • 1Gbps for $50/month, its so much more cheaper and faster than this so called NBN. By the time we get 1Gbps in Australia, i will be 50 years old.

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