updated 02:19 pm EST, Tue November 6, 2012
University to spend three years making OOFDM commercially viable
Scientists are working on a way to improve broadband speeds to 2,000 times that of what is currently offered to users. A team of researchers for Bangor University in the UK have succeeded in creating a 20-gigabit fiber optic connection, and will spend the next three years working on making it more commercially viable.
The project relies on minimizing the amount of dispersion that takes place in fiber optic connections. By increasing the length of a fiber optic cable or increasing the amount of data being passed through the connection, the chance of an error in data goes up. Current measures to avoid this include increasing the number of strands in cables and changing the number of lasers being used to transmit data, both methods requiring significant investment to use.
The new technology, Optical Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OOFDM), allows for multiple strands of data to be transmitted simultaneously by converting data into electrical waves then optical data. While the technology is being worked on by a number of groups, the university claims to be the first to perform this in a live connection. The 20Gbps connection speed achieved could be increased to 40Gbps with extra work according to the researchers, who used "low-cost off-the-shelf" components in their tests.
Bangor University is receiving funding from the European Union to work on the low-cost technology, which if proven commercially viable, may lead to projects such as Google Fiber becoming more commonplace.