Scientists push a record 57Gbps through fiber optic lines (update)

The limits on data transmission were just broken again.

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Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Need proof that the limits of fiber optic technology have been shattered? You just got it. University of Illinois researchers report that they've set a record for fiber data transmission, delivering 57Gbps of error-free data. And importantly, they sent the data at room temperature -- they didn't have to cool things down to keep those bits going. Even when things got toasty (185F), the technology could still deliver a brisk 50Gbps.

The scientists currently expect the technology to get the most use in data centers, aircraft and other places where you need to shuffle a ton of information across relatively short hops in unforgiving conditions. The real challenge might be getting it to work across long distances. If that's practical, the internet could get considerably more headroom and increase the likelihood that your 4K video streams arrive without a hitch.

Update: Reader Tanj notes that this is specifically a record for VCSEL (vertical cavity surface-emitting laser) fiber, not fiber as a whole. However, that's still good news: it means higher-speed connections for low-cost fiber links, which are particularly common at the short ranges where copper still dominates.

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