Wireless world record: Researchers transfer data at 100Gbps through the air

If only we could get 100Gbps in our homes...

One of the major obstacles for delivering faster Internet to the home is the sheer amount of work and money it takes to lay the cable. Now, researchers are coming up with a workaround that transmits the data wirelessly.

The latest effort, from researchers at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, has set a new world record for wireless data transmission. They've managed to hit 100 gigabits per second while transmitting data over 20 meters, using a frequency of 237.5 GHz. A previous effort by the same group reached 40 Gbps over 1 kilometer.

"For rural areas in particular, this technology represents an inexpensive and flexible alternative to optical fiber networks, whose extension can often not be justified from an economic point of view," Professor Ingmar Kallfass said, according to TGDaily. With this technology, service providers could connect the gaps in their networks by pointing a laser (or "beam-focusing antenna") across two transmission towers.

TGDaily also notes that the researchers hit 100 Gbps using a single data stream. In the future, researchers could achieve even higher bandwidths through interweaving of multiple data streams and other techniques.

As exciting as it sounds, don't expect a big bump in home Internet speeds anytime soon. Even after this technology gets out of the lab, service providers would have to figure out how to integrate it, and telecoms companies such as AT&T have noted that signal attenuation and interference can be a problem when transmitting high-frequency data over long distances. There would likely be regulatory hurdles to deal with as well, as telecoms may eventually look to use spectrum beyond 300 GHz, which is currently unallocated in the United States.

But given how long it's taking for wired Internet providers to boost speeds in any significant way, perhaps wireless delivery has a chance to take over long before we all get our fiber-optic fix.

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Jared Newman

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