Just how fast a fiber-optic network can be, faster than you think.The speed of the Internet has grown so fast that, in just two decades, the average size has gone from 28K toothpicks to 100mb water pipes.Demand for broadband and better access is also growing.This is also tied to online video, digital game publishing platforms and web-based "smart devices" such as smart homes.
So how fast is it?So let's see how fast Internet speeds are these days, and I'm not talking about your 10Mb/s.What I'm talking about is the speed at which the cables underneath the tunnel transmit information.As the backbone of the Internet on the data highway, many of the routes can reach speeds of 100Gbps or higher, but that's nothing compared to the world's most powerful facilities.
As you read this online, the fastest part of the Internet is an undersea cable called Marea, which connects Virginia beach to bilbao at a staggering 160TBp/s.Oh, my god!At that speed, downloading files fills up my hard drive in just a few seconds.
To take a more convincing example, this speed is equivalent to the bandwidth needed for the entire population of Portugal to watch 4K video online at the same time.To be honest, the cables used there aren't much thicker than your own, so how on earth does it move data so fast?The idea is simple. Undersea cables like Marea have optical Repeaters installed at intervals, similar to the relay stations that we use to communicate with cell phones.
Isn't the optical signal in the fiber so strong that it can't be weakened? Why do you need an optical repeater?It's not what you think. It's like a cheap laser pointer without an amplifier that doesn't go all the way to the moon.Because the material inside the fiber doesn't reflect light perfectly, it more or less scatters and absorbs it, so relay amplifiers, designed with multiple fibers inside a cable, send multiple streams of different data over a single fiber, allowing these undersea cables to carry a huge amount of information.
So, could it be a little faster than 160 terabytes per second?As technology advances, we can use more efficient reflective materials, and study more efficient ways to use the spectrum, so that we can cram more wavelengths of light into a single fiber, and we can actually see individual cables hitting 1PBps and even higher speeds.You can then use one cable to plug in multiple fiber-optic cables to increase the speed exponentially, provided the rest of the infrastructure is capable of processing and diverting all the signals.
In addition, most advanced optical networks use infrared frequencies, which are relatively low-frequency, meaning they don't carry as much information as more energetic, higher-frequency radiation.In the future, we may also see ultraviolet light carrying information, provided we find an efficient way to transmit it, using materials that can withstand its high energy to avoid excessive attenuation of the signal.
In general, if you want to increase the speed of the transmission of information on the optical fiber, you can make the cable thicker, or use higher frequency to speed up.But of course, to put it into real life is also to consider the feasibility of cost.There are also signal strength, energy consumption, safety issues have to be considered.
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