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Internet speeds could quadruple thanks to new light beam technique

Internet transfer speeds could reach 400Gb/s, four times faster than the highest commercially available speeds, thanks to a new technique that employs two beams of light through a fibre.

Researchers at Bell Laboratories were able to use technology similar to that employed in noise-cancelling headphones, where mirrored beams of light are sent simultaneously, cancelling out the additional noise that inadvertently gets added to transmissions of higher power over long distances.

The twin beams do not just double speeds, as would be expected, but quadruple them, paving the way for major advances in transfer technology. The enhanced speeds are possible because the fibres no longer need data repetition to correct errors due to lost fidelity caused by the added noise.

The new technique was used to send a signal at a whopping 400Gb/s over an optical fibre spanning 12,800km, a larger distance than the longest trans-oceanic connection.

“Nowadays everybody is consuming more and more bandwidth - demanding more and more communication,” Dr. Xiang Liu, lead author of the research, told the BBC. “We need to solve some of the fundamental problems to sustain the capacity growth.”

The full research can be found in the latest issue of Nature Photonics.