A team of scientist from Australia’s Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems, also known as CUDOS, has found out that it is possible to dramatically boost the overall performance of networks like the NBN while reducing costs. According to the researchers, their findings indicate that the data capacity of current optical networks can be improved in such a way that it will take no more than a single fiber to transmit all the internet traffic in the whole world.
The data encoding technology developed by the team makes use of existing network infrastructure, with efficient use of available data channels as the key feature of the system. For instance, in existing networks where the transmission of data goes through channels characterized with gaps, the team approached transmission in an optimal way by packing the data channels closer to each other, with the consequent result of creating more lanes available for traffic in the same data superhighway.
The team, composed of Dr. Jochen Schröder, Dr. Joel Carpenter and Professor Benjamin Eggleton from the University of Sydney and Dr, Liang Du and Professor Arthur Lowery from Monash University, was able to successfully transmit a signal of 10 terabits per second over a distance stretching more than 850 km. The task was accomplished by reprogramming a network component (known as a Wavelength Selective Switch) to work with data encoding technology that makes better use of available data channels. In comparison, ADSL 2+ speeds are usually around six megabits per second. The only known instance where data transmission is much faster than this one is that accomplished by a German team of researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where 26 terabits of data transmission was achieved, but only at a shorter distance of 50 kms.
In a demonstration, the team was able to make efficient use of available data channels by re-programming an LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS). The switch, which utilizes various wavelengths of laser light to combine several digital data streams onto a single optical fiber, can be used to squeeze signals into the gaps in data traffic that exists in optical-ring networks between cities. New traffic can therefore be squeezed at any location of the fiber network and added to any lane of the freeway and even between the existing lanes. The result is a system that is flexible enough to respond to traffic demand by tweaking the way data is transmitted rather than by overlaying another fiber infrastructure on top of an existing network.