Researchers at the University of Texas working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Vermont have come up with a way to dramatically reduce the energy usage and cost to provide high-speed connections for the Internet. These developments could make the Internet 1,000 times faster, much less expensive, and therefore more accessible to everybody.
The developments come from working with optical data transfer by light instead of digital data transfer. Digital transfers are done in chunks, which interrupts the steady flow of data. It encounters problems and resistance in its transmission that light transfer does not experience.
The International Business Times reported that optical transfer of data has problems also because if there is more than one optical beam, there is some spillover of light that is not desirable. This unwanted interaction between the light beams causes the need for frequent regeneration of the optical signals to remove the negative effect of the crosstalk that occurs when multiple light beams are present.
In order to regenerate the optical transfers, the signals are presently converted to digital signals, the noise is removed from the data transfer using electronic circuits and then a new cleaner version of the signal passes on to be made once again into a light transmission.
Fiber optics can carry over a hundred different light beams and each one needs to be processed individually to regenerate them as they pass along. This process is very inefficient and costly because the equipment needed to process the signals is expensive and uses a lot of energy. The breakthrough of the scientists is the elimination of these extra digital-processing steps.
Fiber optics allows many channels of light to pass down the same cable through a technique called wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). Scientist discovered a way to correct the problems with light transmission without needing to change the signal from light to an electrical signal. They use a process called self-phase modulation (SPM), which helps remove the noise from the signal.
Until now, all-optical regeneration using SPM was not possible with WDM because of clashes between the signals. These scientists invented a new group-delay-managed nonlinear-optical medium where strong SPM is achievable without interference. This is a very clever way to eliminate transmission problems over fiber optics, which represents a major breakthrough.
This development may eliminate any potential benefits from any Internet service providers trying to charge clients for enhanced connectivity speeds. When the use of fiber optics combines with this new technology and everything travels at the speed of light on the Internet, connectivity speeds will not be able to be made significantly different for any users. Advancements in technology may potentially eliminate any advantages given to the Internet Service providers by the new FCC regulations.
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