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UK scientists developing lower-cost 20Gbps broadband, 40Gbps on the cards

James Trew, @itstrew
November 6, 2012
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Imagine a world where you can download 20 full-length movies in a second. Well, that's a reality a team of scientists based in Bangor, Wales are fighting for. They are researching ways of cramming more data down fiber-optic cables and negating "dispersion" (the deterioration of data when carried over longer distances at increased rates). Previous attempts to solve the issue have focused on more fibers, more lasers and other signal-boosting techniques. The team in Bangor are focusing their attention on existing Optical Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing technology. By developing a method to convert data into electrical waves, and then into optical data, which can be decoded at the either end with their proprietary system. While the 20Gbps speeds they are working with are far from unheard of, the key is making them practical and accessible to consumers, without expensive new infrastructure. The next steps are to look at ways of commercializing the technique, but the scientists think there's still potential for improvement, believing speeds of up to 40Gbps being possible, meaning fast connections that can multitask.

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