Forget BT and Virgin Media, this is the broadband upgrade we’ve all been waiting for

BT and Virgin Media continue to improve their broadband infrastructure with both firms now offering speedy downloads at over 900Mbps. That rapid rate allows users to beam full HD movies to their TVs in under a minute and is over 15 times faster than the UK average.

Clearly, that sounds pretty impressive but a new technology being tested by engineers at University College London (UCL) could push things to a whole new level.

In fact, the team at UCL has just recorded the world’s fastest ever internet speed which is capable of beaming 222 Ultra HD films to your living room every second or the entire library of content on Netflix downloaded in the time it takes you to blink.

The transmission rate of a ludicrously quick 178 terabits a second was achieved by transmitting data through a much wider range of colours of light, or wavelengths, than is typically used in standard optical fibre.

Not only does this make things faster but there’s also another benefit of the technique as it can be deployed on already existing infrastructure.

That means things can be upgraded at a far more effective cost, by upgrading the amplifiers that are located on optical fibre routes at 40-100km intervals.

As an example, upgrading an amplifier would cost £16,000, while installing new optical fibres can, in urban areas, cost up to £450,000 a kilometre.

Explaining more about the new technology, lead author Dr Galdino, a Lecturer at UCL and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, said: “While current state-of-the-art cloud data-centre interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilise more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fibre bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second.”

So why would you need such fast speeds?

Although most homes would never want to download 222 HD films per second the internet is becoming more strained as demand grows.

UCL says that since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, demand for broadband communication services has soared, with some operators experiencing as much as a 60 percent increase in internet traffic compared to before the crisis. In this unprecedented situation, the resilience and capability of broadband networks has become even more critical.

Dr Galdino added: “But, independent of the Covid-19 crisis, internet traffic has increased exponentially over the last 10 years and this whole growth in data demand is related to the cost per bit going down. The development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend towards lower costs while meeting future data rate demands that will continue to increase, with as yet unthought-of applications that will transform people’s lives.”

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