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Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) have pushed out the speed envelope for wireless data transmissions, wirelessly transmitting data at 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) at 240 gigahertz (GHz) over a distance of one kilometer, a new world record.
At this speed, the new wireless data transmission record would enable transmission of an entire DVD in less than one second. Wireless transmission of data at this rate also “ties in seamlessly with the capacity of optical fiber transmission,” the research partners note in a press release. “In the future, such radio links will be able to close gaps in providing broadband Internet by supplementing the network in rural areas and places which are difficult to access.”
One goal of the test is to get to a point where seamlessly handing off fiber transmissions to a wireless data link is possible. As the researchers explain, “Such a high performance system would also have the advantage of the so-called bit transparency, i.e. the signal of a glass fiber could be fed directly and without energy-consuming transcoding into a radio link. It could then be transmitted and redirected into a glass fiber.”
Increasing the data carrying capacity and geographical reach of wireless transmission could help carriers keep the cost of extending optical fiber infrastructure down as they continue to extend infrastructure and cope with surging Internet and IP-based data traffic, according to the research partners.
Germany, for instance, lags behind its European neighbors in terms of fiber optic networks, according to the FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Council Europe. “Broadband radio links can help to overcome such critical areas, thereby facilitating the expansion of the network infrastructures. In rural areas they can be a cost-effective and flexible alternative to 'Fiber to the Home,'” they state.
In addition to rapid transmission of large volumes of data, using the high-frequency band between 200 and 280 GHz enabled the research team to incorporate all the necessary integrated electronic circuitry into a compact unit, measuring just 4 x 15 mm2.
Basing its transistors on high carrier mobility (HEMT), “makes our radio link easier to install compared to free-space optical systems for data transmission. It also shows better robustness in poor weather conditions such as fog or rain”, KIT's Jochen Antes explained.
The researchers say setting the world record is only the beginning. “Improving the spectral efficiency by using more complex modulation formats or a combination of several channels, i.e. multiplexing, will help to achieve even higher data rates,” Antes elaborated. “This could give new impetus to the expansion of the broadband network.”