Scientists have developed a new technology that could help connect every household to very high speed internet at lower costs.
The innovative technology will help address the challenges of providing households with high bandwidths while future proofing infrastructure against the exponentially growing demand for data, researchers said.
While major advances have been made in core optical fibre networks, they often terminate in cabinets far from the end consumers.
The so called ‘last mile’ which connects households to the global Internet via the cabinet, is still almost exclusively built with copper cables as the optical receiver needed to read fibre-optic signals is too expensive to have in every home.
“We have designed a simplified optical receiver that could be mass-produced cheaply while maintaining the quality of the optical signal,” said lead researcher Sezer Erkilinc, from University College London (UCL).
“The average data transmission rates of copper cables connecting homes today are about 300 megabytes per second and will soon become a major bottleneck in keeping up with data demands, which will likely reach about 5-10 gigabytes per second by 2025,” said Erkilinc.“Our technology can support speeds up to 10 gigabytes per second, making it truly futureproof,” he said.
Scientists developed a new way to solve the ‘last mile problem’ of delivering fibre connections direct to households with true fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband technology.
They simplified the design of the optical receiver, improving sensitivity and network reach compared to existing technology.
Once commercialised, it will lower the cost of installing and maintaining active components between the central cabinet and homes.
A major factor limiting the uptake of FTTH is the overall cost associated with laying optical fibre cables to each household and providing affordable optical receivers to connect them to the network.
The novel optical receiver retains many of the advantages of the conventional optical receivers typically used in core networks, but is smaller and contains around 75-80 per cent fewer components, lowering the cost.
“Our receiver, is much simpler, containing just a quarter of the detectors used in a conventional coherent optical receiver,” said Seb Savory, previously at UCL and now at the University of Cambridge. The study was published in the Journal of Lightwave Technology.