Hollow Fibre Optic Tunnels Can Blast Data At Practically The Speed Of Light

We all want faster downloads, and developments like graphene antennas promise a speedy future. There is an upper limit -- the speed of light -- but that should be fast enough, right? Well, a new kind of hollow fibre optic cable promises to get us 99.7 per cent of the way there.

Developed by researchers at the University of Southampton in England, the new breed of cables makes use of good old-fashioned air to get the data really cooking. Technically, all fibre optic cables transmit data at the speed of light, but the transfer material can slow that down. While the speed of light in air isn't close to max speed in a vacuum, it beats typical glass handily. Air cables are 1000 times better than what we've got now, and it can hit speeds of 10 terabytes per second.

Air-filled cables aren't a new idea, but researchers have vastly improved the way light is bounced around corners in this iteration, enabling not only blistering speed but also reasonably low data loss of 3.5dB/km.

That still adds up at a distance though, so these crazy fast cables are most likely destined for supercomputer and data centre applications, for now at least. But it's still a gigantic leap towards the ultimate end-game of high-speed data transmission. Then it's just a matter of rollout. [Nature via ExtremeTech]

Picture: PeterPhoto123/Shutterstock

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    Oh no, NBN is obsolete? :P

      Perhaps but I doubt it. This development is by researchers within a university so there's no guarantee that it will work on a large scale or even if the tech will actually make it in production. To me its like when a biomed facility announcing a break through. The only problem being that it could take 15 years or so till the new medicine makes it to shelves (assuming there are no side effects which kill it in the mean time).

    well I guess the NBN is out of date now /rolleyes

      NBN technology was always going to be out of date sooner or later. I never understood why supposedly tech-savvy people would make such arbitrary statements to the effect that current fibre-optic cabling is the absolute pinnacle of physical communication media. The whole 'fibre-optic transfers data at the speed of light' argument tends to come from people who don't understand how fibre-optic cable works.

    is that decimal point in the right place.
    3.5dB/km is much higher than traditional single mode optical fibre with a range between 0.35 - 0.21db/km

      3.5dB/km is right and it is perfectly fine for short distance runs considering the low latency on this thing.

      Long distance run it is really really bad. Having said that they did say it is entirely possible to get this to sub 0.2dB/km

    So the NBN's cabling would need to be replaced to run this tech - you can't just swap out the aboveground technology... :P

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