Facebook and noise....
.... removing what will yield more bandwidth available?
A technology that first hit the mass market in 1990s-era modems running over voice networks will soon be boosting submarine fibre speeds around the world. So says Dr Laurent Schmalen, Department Head, Coding for Optical Networks, at Nokia Bell Labs, who chatted to Vulture South about “constellation shaping” and the future of …
Science fiction is littered with fantastic visions of computing. One of the more pervasive is the idea that one day computers will run on light. After all, what’s faster than the speed of light?
But it turns out Star Trek’s glowing circuit boards might be closer to reality than you think, Ayar Labs CTO Mark Wade tells The Register. While fiber optic communications have been around for half a century, we’ve only recently started applying the technology at the board level. Despite this, Wade expects, within the next decade, optical waveguides will begin supplanting the copper traces on PCBs as shipments of optical I/O products take off.
Driving this transition are a number of factors and emerging technologies that demand ever-higher bandwidths across longer distances without sacrificing on latency or power.
Parts of South Yorkshire are to get fiber broadband run through mains water pipes in a two-year trial to evaluate the viability of the technology for connecting more homes.
The move will see fiber-optic cable strung through 17 kilometers of water mains between Barnsley and Penistone under a government-sanctioned technology trial. The project appears to be part of a £4m fund announced last year to trial ways of connecting up hard-to-reach homes without digging up roads.
Another section of the trial will be to test out whether fiber installed inside water pipes can be used to help water companies detect leaks, and so cut down on water wastage.
Optical-fibre internet now makes up 32 per cent of fixed broadband subscriptions across the OECD countries, and is the fastest growing broadband technology. However, there is a mixed picture with cable still dominant in the Americas and the UK still predominantly DSL.
These figures come from an update to the OECD's broadband portal, indicating that fibre subscriptions grew by 15 per cent across the OECD countries between June 2020 and June 2021, with demand for faster internet speeds as employees worked remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions cited as one reason.
Fixed broadband subscriptions in OECD countries totalled 462.5 million as of June 2021, up from 443 million a year earlier, while mobile broadband subscriptions totalled 1.67 billion, up from 1.57 billion a year earlier.
In the 15th century, European traders that hoped to reach Asia had problems: a round trip by land or sea took years and involved many lethal perils. Navigators of the day therefore imagined sailing the “Northwest Passage,” a route across the Atlantic, then over the top of North America, before sliding south to Japan.
Sadly, ice is seldom absent at the far northern latitudes the Passage occupies. Nor is there a simple route through the glacier-carved archipelago atop Canada. Navigating the Passage therefore proved impossible for four hundred years, failed attempts like the Franklin Expedition became maritime lore*, and the route turned out to be so finnicky it’s not commercially viable.
In the 21st century, Europeans have a similar problem: network latency between northern Europe and Asia is uncomfortably long.
Boffins at Japan's Keio University reckon they've built viable optical fibers from plastics.
Optical fibers are most often made of glass and are, as attested by the awesome data-schlepping capacity of undersea cables, freaking amazing.
But while boffins have made optical fibers very resilient, they've not been able to address all the fragilities in glass.
Imagine an optic fiber that can sense the presence of a nearby jackhammer and warn its owner that it is in danger of being dug up, just in time to tell diggers not to sink another shaft. Next, imagine that an entire city's installed base of fiber could be turned into sensors that will make planners think twice before installing IoT devices.
Next, stop imagining: the tech is real, already working, and was yesterday used to demonstrate the impact of an earthquake.
As explained to The Register by Mark Englund, CEO of FiberSense, the company uses techniques derived from sonar to sense vibrations in fiber cables. FiberSense shoots lasers down the cables and observes the backscatter as the long strands of glass react to their environment.
Small businesses in the UK are still woefully unprepared for the 2025 PSTN switch-off, when the plug will be pulled on the copper phone network.
That's according to Gavin Jones, channel sales director at BT Wholesale, who made the comments as the division unveiled two new packages it hopes will boost fibre take-up and its own coffers.
Aimed at BT's channel partners, BT Wholesale Hosted Communications (WHC) Express provides a digital phone line for small businesses (typically up to 10 employees) ahead of PSTN being retired in 2025, while its new Broadband One package offers full-fibre speeds up to 1Gbps.
BT is claiming bragging rights after completing trials of hollow-core fibre (HCF) cable at its labs at Adastral Park in Suffolk, England.
The new cable – Nested Anti-Resonant Nodeless hollow-core fibre (NANF) to give it its full name – was developed and manufactured by Lumenisity, a Hampshire business set up in 2017 and spun out from work originating at Southampton University. The trials were set up in conjunction with American OpenRAN vendor Mavenir.
Unlike traditional fibre-optic cable, which is made from a solid piece of glass and sends signals using different wavelengths of light to transmit data, Lumenisity's CoreSmart cable is hollow to reduce latency and interference.
Japanese researchers have broken the world record for the fastest internet speed by transmitting data at 319 terabits per second (Tbps) using modern day compatible fibre optical cable, according to the country's primary comms research institute.
The 3,001km (1,864 miles) optical fibre was designed by engineers at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) Network Research Institute.
The boffins used 4 cores within the fibre to transmit the data, and applied wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), allowing multiple wavelengths to be sent simultaneously over a single strand of fibre. The individual WDM channels, numbering 552 in this case, were then modulated to form multiple signal sequences at alternate intervals.
The UK's Department of Fun – aka Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – has opened a consultation on legislation designed to improve access to gigabit broadband in apartment blocks.
Launched today, the consultation [PDF] focuses on the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act, which received Royal assent and was passed into law earlier this year.
The bill defined a process in which telecommunications companies can access apartment blocks in order to upgrade services without obtaining the direct consent of the land owner or landlord.
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