Forget Terabit networks; new multicore fibers could signal the Petabit age


Some interesting experiments in fiber optics could dramatically improve the data rates of our backbone internet networks. Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan said on Tuesday that they have successfully demonstrated a multicore fiber network controlled via software-defined networking (SDN).

Fiber strands today are essentially single tubes of glass, or cores, that carry visible light between nodes. Multicore fiber is exactly what its name implies: multiple cores each carrying a single core’s worth of capacity over the same link. By interleaving as many cores in rings, optical researchers have been able to build some truly powerful test networks.

In Japan, a group led by NTT recently built a 450 km (280 mile) section of fiber using 12 cores in two rings capable of transmitting 409 Tb/s in either direction. That’s 818 Tb/s in total –…

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