If you go to your current broadband supplier you will probably be offered one of the following packages:

  • Superfast – average speed of 59Mb per second
  • Ultrafast – average speed of 145Mb per second
  • Ultrafast plus – average speed of 500Mb per second

But not everyone can get even the slowest of these options, depending on where you live.

That hasn’t stopped scientists around the world from vying to develop even faster speeds. In June 2021, a group of researchers in Japan from the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) set a new world record of 319 terabits per second (Tb/s) for internet speed. This wasn’t just over a small distance in a lab, it covered over 3000km without any performance drops.

The previous record was 178 terabits per second set in 2020 by engineers at University College London, so this new record was quite a significant increase.
NICT scientists used fibre optics, small tubes that pass information using light. To achieve this record, the team had to use some special add-ons that are only familiar to the very skilled and educated engineers working with lasers.

The engineers said that even regular optical fibre infrastructure could support these types of speeds, but it would need to go through a few modifications first. Regular copper cables couldn’t carry such speeds and would require much more complex infrastructure to work.

Just to put these types of speed in context, in less than a second you could download 57,000 full-length films or download the whole of the Spotify catalogue in under three seconds.

Author: Jonathan Smith

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