The key to the breakthrough was a new device called a micro-comb, which was being field tested for the first time. This device replaces 80 individual infrared lasers, each of which can be used as a separate communications channel.
The team, made up of researchers from Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities, tested the technology using 76.6 km (47.6 mi) of optical fibers, installed between two university campuses in Melbourne, Australia.
Across 4 THz of bandwidth, the network was able to transmit data at a blistering speed of 44.2 Tb/s. It’s hard to overstate just how fast that really is. The fastest internet speed available to consumers is Google Fiber, which clocks 1 Gb/s. The US Department of Energy’s dedicated science network, ESnet, maxes out at 400 Gb/s – but that’s reserved for organizations like NASA.