Facebook-Microsoft undersea cable achieves record data transfer speed

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A new experiment has achieved a record fibre optic cable capacity of 26.2 terabits per second (tbps) across more than 6,000 km of a transatlantic fibre optic cable jointly owned by Facebook and Microsoft. This represents a 20 per cent improvement of what the cable’s eight optic fibres were originally thought to be capable of achieving, The Verge reported.

A team of researchers from US-based telecommunication equipment company Infinera smashed through efficiency records for data transfer while testing an emerging approach for how the light signals are transmitted — called 16QAM modulation.

The researchers believe that the new method could increase network capacity without requiring new cables, which can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. The team managed to extend record-setting capacity for a given reach — across the Atlantic Ocean — using the MAREA transatlantic cable, which spans 6,605 km from Bilbao, Spain, to Virginia Beach in the US.

Funded in part by Microsoft and Facebook, MAREA currently holds the record for the highest-capacity cable crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Demand for new and better cables has risen ever since the first undersea trans-Atlantic communications cable was laid in 1858. That demand has skyrocketed over the last decade, thanks to the shift to Cloud-based computing.

The MAREA cable came online last year and is made of eight pairs of optic fibres, with each pair designed to carry 20 terabits per second — each one enough to stream more than four million HD videos at once.

The team will present their research at the upcoming Optical Fibre Conference and Exposition to be held from March 3-7 in San Diego, California.