PolyU uses software, not hardware, to break the record for optical communications
Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has achieved a data speed of 240 Gbps over 2km, many times faster than products on the market, and potentially cutting the cost of data transmission.
Communication over optical fiber is limited by distortion, and previous efforts to beat this have relied on purer optical fiber, or more expensive signalling hardware to undo this effect. PolyU took an alternative route, according to its release. Using software, the team analysed masses of transmission data to extract distortion patterns which can then be removed from the informatino received, leaving a purer signal and allowing faster speeds.
Left to right: Dr Kangping Zhong, Dr Alan Lau, Prof. Alex Wai and Prof. Chao Lu
“We’re able to identify some patterns and do some processing to undo the distortion,” Dr Alan Lau told the South China Morning Post. “That in turn allows us to raise the connection speed.”
This approach could make fast connections much cheaper, potentially cutting the cost to one-quarter of the existing alternatives, says PolyU, so this has commercial possibilities. Cheaper transmission costs could enable more use of communications such as immersive videos, augmented reality and virtual reality.
The research at PoyU’s department of electronic and information engineering, is supported by Huawei, and could allow 10,000 people to stream 4K video over a single fiber link.
Signal distortion has been a limiting factor for fiber communications for some time, and has been a difficult issue to overcome because its effect appears random. However, there is some order in the chaos, and the PolyU team has created algorithm softwware which analyses and finds that order so the distortion can be reversed.