Internet speeds have come a long ways over the years. The days of using unreliable (and annoyingly loud) dial-up modems with a max speed of just 44.8 kbit/s are a distant memory. Now, families can enjoy broadband speeds with cable modems, DSL and even satellites. But there's a world of possibilities on the horizon, with Internet technology continuing to evolve with each passing year.
Google is currently working on a new fiber-optics broadband system. Rightfully called Google Fiber, it delivers top speeds of 1 Gbit/s, which is about 100 times faster than current broadband technology. Assuming these numbers are accurate, customers can download full-length Blu-ray-quality movies in just seconds. Google Fiber is currently being rolled out in Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah.
"At up to 1,000 Mbps, Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today's basic broadband, allowing you to get what you want instantaneously. You no longer have to wait on things buffering; everything will be ready to go when you are. So whether you are video chatting, uploading family videos, or playing your favorite online games, all you need to do is click and you're there," said Google.
A 1 Gbit/s Google Fiber line probably sounds nice, but there are actually much faster connections being developed. In order to break the current speed barriers of modern-day technology, we have to look at different methods of relaying data across long distances.
One possible solution is laser beams, which are already being tested for this very reason. Last year, the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) achieved a connection speed of 662 Mbit/s by shooting a laser to the moon. Granted, this isn't on the same level as Google Fiber, but there's an enormous amount of untapped potential with laser connections.
Microchips are also being engineered to produce ultra-fast Internet speeds. Using analog-to-digital converter (ADC) technology, IBM researchers created a chip that's able to achieve 400 Gbit/s – four hundred times faster than Google Fiber, and four thousand times faster than most current broadband connections. The ADC chip isn't going to be used for downloading movies, though, as it's destined for the Square Kilometer Array to peer across the universe. Perhaps the same technology used in the AFC chip will be implemented in consumer-grade Internet connections.
On the software side of things, utilizing a different protocol may yield ultra-fast Internet speeds in the future as well. Most current broadband connections use protocols that restrict data movement. The newly developed Flexgrid protocol allows multiple signals to travel on the same cable; thus, vastly improving speeds. Recent tests clocked a Flexgrid protocol connection in the U.K. at 200 Gbit/sec.
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