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Terabit fiber optic speeds just came closer to reality

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Terabit fiber optic speeds just came closer to reality

researchers have been showing off terabit data speeds in fiber opticsfor years, but they’ve seldom been practical. That exotic technology may work over long distances, but it can quickly fall apart when you throw typical network loads in the mix. However, it’s about to become much more practical. Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom and the Technical University of Munich have shown off 1Tbps data speeds in a field trial that involved “real conditions,” with varying channel conditions and traffic levels.

The secret was a new modulation technique, Probabilistic Constellation Shaping. Instead of using all the networking’s constellation points (the “alphabet of the transmission”) equally, like typical fiber, it prefers those points with lower amplitudes — the ones that are less susceptible to noise.

You’re likely not going to see these terabit fiber lines in regular use for a while, since there’s a large gap between a field test and making commercially available lines. The timing might be ideal, mind you — 5G cellular data is just gathering momentum, and telecoms will need gobs of bandwidth to cope with the increased demands. A realistic 1Tbps fiber option would make sure that the internet’s wired backbones don’t collapse under the load.

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