Alcatel Lucent's Bell Labs claims to have set a new world record for Internet broadband speed. The firm's research project, which made use of traditional copper landlines for data transmission, clocked in at a top speed of 10 gigabits per second.
"Our constant aim is to push the limits of what is possible to 'invent the future', with breakthroughs that are 10 times better than are possible today. Our demonstration of 10 Gbps over copper is a prime example: by pushing broadband technology to its limits, operators can determine how they could deliver gigabit services over their existing networks, ensuring the availability of ultra-broadband access as widely and as economically as possible," says Marcus Weldon, the president of Bell Labs.
The new record blows past the pace of Google Fiber, which currently offers the fastest broadband service in existence at 1 gigabit per second. The prototype technology, called XG-Fast, also represents a significant improvement to traditional broadband speeds. According to a recent survey from software testing company Ookla, the fastest Internet speed in the US is 85.5 megabits per second, in a tiny town called Ephrata in Washington state.
XG-Fast is an extension of G.fast, a new broadband standard that is being developed by the International Telecommunication Union. G.fast, which is expected to become available in 2015, will provide broadband speeds of up to 500 Mbps from a distance of 100 meters.
While the technology shows promise, it has some limitations. According to a Bell Labs, 10 Gbps was only achieved at a distance of 30 meters. At 70 meters, the speed drops to 1 Gbps.
It's still not clear when XG-Fast will become available commercially. However, when it does, its real-world speed is more likely to be closer to 1 Gbps than 10 Gbps. This would make it a competitor to fiber-to-home services like Google Fiber. While it may not hold a significant advantage in terms of actual speed, it may win out through ease of adoption. Currently, copper landlines are already in use in a large majority of American cities. This means that existing infrastructure an be used to provide ultra-fast Internet. This is in contrast to Google Fiber, which is facing an expensive investment as it looks to bring fiber connections beyond the three cities in which it operates.