UK Scientists Hope To Introduce A Low Cost Fibre Network With 40Gbps As Their Target
Chris Hadley / 5 years ago
Over the last few years, the speed of broadband that is available in the UK has soared, with 2-4Mbps widely regarded as fast not too long ago. Since then we have seen the speed not only rise, but soar with 100Mbps now available from BT in selected areas and Virgin Media offering up 120Mbps. These high speeds are all made possible because of fibre optic cables and their capabilities to hold high speed connections. A team of scientists in Bangor, North Wales, have been working on making the speeds that fibre can handle much higher. The breakthrough that they believe to have found could see the speed of the UK’s broadband network being boosted to around 2,000 times greater than what is regarded as common today.
Whereas with copper cables where data is transmitted as electrical signals, fibre optical data is transmitted as light in a very fast sequence of light pulses. Even though fibre cabling has the capability to carry this stream of data at a much higher rate and across greater distances when compared to traditional copper cabling, it still suffers from signal loss and degradation and this is where the team wants to improve the quality of the fibre. Currently there are a few ways and means of getting around this problem, but each of these naturally is very costly and is a heavy investment to make. Such options at the moment include integrating signal boosters along the path of the cable, additional strands of fibre and installing additional lasers at either end of the run to improve encoding and decoding efficiency.
The path that the team of scientists have chosen to go down, involves using a technology that already exists and is used by wireless networks and tweaking it to suit the needs of fibre data. This technology is known as OOFDM, Optical Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex. To do this, the technology converts the digital signal of 1’s and 0’s into an electrical signal path which is then converted in the optical pulse of light. Through the use of this technology, the team has seen a soar in speeds with the 20Gbps barrier coming going very quickly and the next target that the team has set is for 40Gbps. If the remainder of their research and testing all goes to plan, the team aim to have modules ready for deployment to the field in the next couple of years.