Made at UCL


UCL researchers set the record for fastest ever data rate

UCL Minds from the Optical Networks Group at UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering have achieved a data rate of 120 Tbits per second in a single fibre – that would allow the entire HD Games of Thrones series to be downloaded in just 1 second!

unloc transnet

Living in an increasingly connected world means our optical communications need to be faster and have greater capacity than ever before. The speed at which we can move data around affects how fast businesses can operate and how quickly we can connect with each other.

UCL researchers are leading a collaboration with academia and industry partners to unlock the capacity of our fibre optic networks and achieve communication at speeds never witnessed before, via two consecutive, multidisciplinary, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research programmes – UNLOC and TRANSNET.

On the UNLOC research programme, UCL’s Optical Networks Group worked with subsea fibre optic technology provider, Xtera, on how to generate, transmit, detect and process optical data. The team showed that, under laboratory conditions, it is possible to achieve record transmission capacities over 120 Tbits per second in a single fibre. 

The data rate achieved is almost 50,000 times faster than the current “superfast" broadband speed in the UK broadband of just 24 megabits per second. A transmission capacity of this scale could allow an entire HD Games of Thrones series to be downloaded within one second!

While the UNLOC Programme finished in March 2018, the data rates that the programme achieved will have far-reaching implications for society and could change the way all institutions and people interact with each other in the virtual space – in a faster, more consistent and interconnected way than ever before. 

Research continues under the TRANSNET Programme, with the aim of creating an adaptive, intelligent optical network that will provide the framework for our future digital communications infrastructure.

Meet the minds behind this discovery at the It's All Academic Festival on 5 October.