Fiber optics have for some time now been some of the greatest sources of bandwidth transmission around. The growth of corporate fiber offerings like Google (News - Alert) Fiber has been matched, perhaps even exceeded, by the growth of municipal fiber systems. Fiber itself, meanwhile, is still growing and improving, as evidenced by a new record transmission capacity yielded over single mode fiber.
The record in question was achieved by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) and Nokia (News - Alert) Bell Labs, who managed to transmit a 65 terabit per second (Tb/s) rate over a 6,600 kilometer fiber. While it was a lab trial, the test still managed to reach that staggering speed using “submarine grade dual band erbium doped fiber amplifiers,” which will yield much greater capability for transoceanic cable.
Perhaps the biggest development in clearing this record was a construction of Bell Labs (News - Alert) known as “Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS)”, a system that uses modulation to yield greater distance and capacity for optical networks' transmission speeds. Normally constellation symbols are transmitted at a universal occurrence, but with PCS, the transmission can be non-uniform, and thus provide a kind of traffic shaping, but for constellations. “High power” constellations can be reduced, which means less noise and the like in the system as well as the ability to adapt as needed to conditions on the ground.
This approach has already been seen to work thanks to that impressive new maximum, roughly the equivalent of over 10 million HD channels streamed simultaneously. It also represents a capacity that's over 13,000 times what it was when a transatlantic system was first installed way back in 1995.
Underscoring this point, Nokia chief technology officer and Nokia Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon commented “The future digital existence where everyone, everything and every system and process is connected will require a massive increase in network capacity and the ability to dynamically optimize this capacity. Probabilistic Constellation Shaping extends the limits of current optical transmission by utilizing novel modulation techniques to dramatically improve the performance and capacity needed for the new digital era that will be enabled by the Future X Network.”
Innovations like these will likely go a long way toward addressing our current bandwidth crunches. Thanks to an increasing number of uses for online traffic, from work to play and beyond, we need more bandwidth, and creating comparatively simple ways to get it in play are vital to its ongoing health. With more fiber systems coming to regular users and 5G still waiting in the wings, we may well have those necessary connection tools in fairly short order.
With an increasingly mobile workforce needing connectivity, and streaming video and online gaming offering more options for home use, the demand for bandwidth won't abate any time soon. We therefore need new technologies to meet the growing demand, and the Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) / Nokia co-production is one great example.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi