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How fast is your internet connection? Fortunately, the days of 56K modems are long gone for most of us. But before you get too smug with your gigabit fiber connection, take a look at what researchers at the Network Research Institute in Japan have accomplished. Using standard diameter fiber, they moved data at a rate of 1 petabit per second.

Standard fiber has four spatial channels in a single sheath. Using wavelength division multiplexing, the researchers deployed a total of 801 channels with a bandwidth greater than 20 THz. The fiber distance was over 50 km, so it wasn’t just one side from one lab to the other. Well, if you look at the pictures, maybe it was, but with large spools of fiber between the two lab benches. The project uses three separate bands for data transmission with 335 channels in S-band, 200 channels in C-band and 266 channels in L-band.

To put that into perspective, one petabit – in theory – could carry a million gigabit Ethernet connections if you ignore overhead and other losses. But even if it’s a factor of 10, it’s still impressive. We can’t imagine this will be in people’s homes anytime soon, but it’s easy to see the use of major backhaul networks carrying a lot of traffic.

We’re still amazed that we’ve moved from ALOHA to 2.5 gigabit connections. Although the Raspberry Pi can’t handle even a fraction of the bandwidth, you can equip it with a 10 gigabit network card.

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