A new milestone has been reached with optical communications. Two groups of people hit similar bandwidth data transfers at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference in Los Angeles in April 2011.
NEC Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, reported 101.7 Terabits/second through 165 km of fibre. NEC was able to do this by generating 370 separate laser pulses that did not interfere with each other inside a single optical fibre. Each laser used a minute portion of the infrared spectrum, and each laser using several polarities, phases, and amplitudes of light to represent each data packet.
Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Tokyo, also reached 109 Terabits/second. Instead of a single fibre, like NECs approach, the Japan team used a fibre that holds seven cores. Each core carried 15.6 Terabits/second.
Both techniques have their challenges. Multicore fibres are difficult to manufacture, and controlling amplitude over long distance also have its challenges. At the moment, 14 Terabits/second is the maximum speeds over a single fibre. Although the 100 Terabit level has been reached, how about scaling it back to 50, and make it widespread? NEC reports that every year, bandwidth demand increases by 50%. With just 50 Terabits, the infrastructure will be good for at least 7 years.