Researchers at Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Labs have broken the world record for transmitting data over a fibre optic network in a real-world environment, by more than doubling the speed of previous attempts. 

Transmission speeds of 512 Gbit/s over a single optical fibre wavelength channel were clocked, which corresponds to a usable bit rate of 400 Gbit/s and equates to the simultaneous transmission of 77 music CDs.

The maximum bit rate in backbone networks today is currently 100 Gbit/s. 

Although transmission speeds have been higher in a laboratory setting, this record was achieved in Deutsche Telekom’s optical network on a route of 734 kilometres from Berlin to Hanover and back. 

The previous world record was set by the California Institute of Technology at the end of last year, where researchers transferred data at a rate of 186 Gbit/s, less than half the rate achieved by Deutsche Telekom’s latest results. 

Thanks to this latest development, the researchers now claim that if all 48 channels of an optical fibre were used, throughput of up to 24.6 Tbit/s could be attained, which equates to 3,696 CDs being transferred at the same time.  

According to the team, the transmission was achieved using innovative technology that contains two carrier frequencies, two polarisation planes, 16-QAM quadrature amplitude modulation and digital offline signal processing for the equalisation of fibre influences. 

“Together with our technology partner Alcatel-Lucent and the experts at Telekom Network Production, we are very proud of having attained this tremendous transmission performance over the Internet under real-world conditions,” said Heinrich Arnold, T-Labs manager.

“With them, we have successfully developed an innovative method by which the transmission capacity of optical fibre can be increased significantly in network operation”.