Wireless network speeds have improved significantly in recent years, but they’re still far slower than wired fiber optic connections. 4G mobile networks and satellite Internet connections are fine for most individuals, but they don’t have the bandwidth or bitrate to make them viable solutions for businesses or other large organizations. Thanks to the efforts of researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan, however, we may be one step closer to having robust wireless networks that are capable of achieving transfer rates comparable to those of wired connections.
The team of Japanese scientists recently announced that they have successfully created a terahertz (THz) transmitter “capable of transmitting data at a rate exceeding 100 gigabits per second over a single channel.” The transmitter operates on the 300-GHz band, or 0.3 THz. These transfer speeds are about 10 times faster than the 5G mobile network speeds that are expected to be available around 2020.
In addition to being remarkably fast, Hiroshima University’s wireless transmitter also offers far lower latencies than other types of wireless connections. This could allow the transmitter to serve double duty for organizations than need both fast data rates and low-latency connections.
“Today, you must make a choice between ‘high data rate’ (fiber optics) and ‘minimum latency’ (microwave links). You can’t have them both,” said the research team in their conclusions. “But with terahertz wireless, we could have light-speed minimum-latency links supporting fiber-optic data rates.”
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.
There are still plenty of challenges the research team will have to overcome to get the transmitter ready to go to market. As one writer in the network communications magazine LightReading points out, there’s still no word on the operating range of the terahertz transmitter. A 100 Gbps wireless transmitter might be pretty great in theory, but it won’t do much good if it only works within the confines of a laboratory. It may be difficult to make the transmitter function effectively over long distances due to the extreme signal attenuation associated with terahertz-band communications.
Rather than being an industry-disrupting revelation in wireless communications, this transmitter is more likely to be an incremental step in an ongoing effort to develop ultra-high-speed wireless networks.