China claims to have launched world’s first 1.2 terabit-per-second internet backbone

In brief: China has just announced that the country now possesses the world’s fastest internet: a backbone network that is able to reach 1.2 terabits (1,200 gigabits) per second across a 1,860-mile line. The achievement puts China ahead of technology forecasts as experts had not expected to see networks able to reach 1 terabit/s until around 2025.

The optical fiber cabling, which links Beijing in the north, central China’s Wuhan, and Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong, is the result of a collaboration between Tsinghua University, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies, and Cernet Corporation.

The network was activated in July and launched on Monday. Tsinghua University claims the “stable and reliable” 1.2 terabit-per-second line has passed various tests verifying that it really is that fast. Huawei Technologies vice-president Wang Lei said the network was capable of transferring the data equivalent of 150 4K films in just one second.

Tsinghua University added that all the hardware and software used to create the network was developed domestically, including a next-gen internet core router capable of handling superfast speeds.

The network is part of China’s Future Internet Technology Infrastructure (FITI) project, which aims to use IPv6-only technology to link 40 universities spread across 35 cities, providing an open research and test platform for future internet architecture.

Most of the world’s internet backbone networks currently operate at 100 gigabits per second, while the United States upgraded to its fifth-gen Internet2 service last year, increasing the speed to 400 gigabits/s.

In February, Huawei rival Nokia said it had reached 1.2 terabits per second over “metro distances” of about 73 miles on an optical network in Europe.

While China’s network is fast, we have seen faster small-scale data transfer speeds before. Researchers from the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) in Japan hit 319 terabits per second across an intranet network in 2021. They used a transmission system that fully utilizes wavelength division multiplexing technology by combining different amplifier tech.

The world record data transfer speed was set last October when scientists from the Technical University of Denmark hit 1.84 petabits per second. The researchers used a single “computer chip” as a light source and a single fiber-optic cable as a transmission channel in the experiment (above).

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