Japanese team targets 24Tbps optical fiber by 2014

Fujitsu, NTT and NEC have created a research group which aims to transmit 60 channels of 400Gbps each over a fiber

Three of Japan's tech giants will work together to increase data transmission speeds over optical fiber, aiming for 400Gbps per channel by 2014.

Fujitsu, NTT and NEC said Tuesday they will aim to combine 60 channels using the new technology, to achieve a total data transmission rate of around 24Tbps over a single optical fiber. The companies said they will advance current techniques for multiplexing and modulation of signals, and tackle the degradation of optic signals over large distances.

In addition to brute speed, an obvious requirement as more data is exchanged online, the companies said they would try to make the new network technology as adaptable as possible to handle sudden fluctuations and changes in the network. The earthquakes that regularly rock Japan are a major test for its networks, both because of the physical damage they cause and the sudden spikes in traffic that follow as the population tries to connect and get the latest news.

A major goal of the project will be to slash power consumption to less than half of that of technologies in use today, mainly by cutting down on the amount of hardware required, the companies said in a joint news release. They will also aim to develop a single device that can both modulate and demodulate traffic, for more overall network flexibility.

Faster fiber speeds have been achieved in the past under research conditions. NTT announced it set a world record in September when it hit one petabit per second in transfers over a single 50-kilometer fiber, which it said is the equivalent of sending 5,000 two-hour high-definition videos per second.

The same companies previously teamed up, starting in 2009, to develop transmission technology that can yield 100Gbps per channel. A product based on that research went on sale earlier this year, and the companies said their chip implementation for converting signals at those speeds is the global market leader.

The new research will be sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications as part of a larger project to promote Japanese network technology. The government's "Research and Development Project for the Ultra-high Speed and Green Photonic Networks" is partly aimed at establishing networks that are fast and flexible enough to quickly recover when base stations are knocked out by large-scale natural disasters.

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