The development will eventually make it cheaper for telecommunications service providers to send more data on fiber optic networks over longer distances.
Bell Labs said that, in a demonstration, it sent a massive 2.56 terabits of data per second over a distance of 2,500 miles, the equivalent of sending the contents of 2,560,000 novels every second across the United States. One terabit is a little over 1 trillion bits of data. The previous record was 1.6 terabits per second over 1,250 miles, or half the distance.
Bell Labs achieved the 2.56 terabit-per-second speed by sending 40 gigabits-per-second of data over each of 64 separate channels in fiber optic cable, which uses light waves to carry data. It used dense wave division multiplexing, a technology that allows service providers to push bigger chunks of data onto a single strand of optical fiber.
The capacity and distance improvement was made possible by use of a coding scheme called differential phase shift keying, which Bell Labs has developed for high-capacity communications. Lucent’s long distance networking product, LambdaExtreme, cannot support the higher data speeds.