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New wireless transmission tech hits 2.56Tbps, leaves WiFi feeling inadequate

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
June 26, 2012
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Stoked about the gigabit speeds your new 802.11ac WiFi router is pumping out? One group of scientists hailing from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and universities in the US, Israel and China isn't so impressed, having generated a wireless signal clocking in at 2.56Tbps. Proof of the feat was published in Nature Photonics, which details their use of orbital angular momentum (OAM) to make the magic happen. Current wireless protocols alter the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves to hold info, and by combining both methods the team was able to pack eight data steams into a single signal, resulting in the mouth-watering number noted above. The best part is, applying different levels of OAM twist to SAM-based transmissions theoretically allows an infinite number of streams per signal, meaning seriously increased bandwidth without the need for additional frequency. So far the wireless tests have only been conducted over a measly 1m, but the scientists reckon it'll work at distances up to 1km and that the concept could also be used to boost speeds in existing fiber-optic cables. As with many scientific advances, it's unlikely hardware capable of such speeds will be available any time soon, so 802.11ac will have to suffice... for now.

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