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Scientists Test World's Fastest Wireless Network

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-can't-lasers-do dept.

Wireless Networking 77

MojoKid writes "Scientists in Pisa, Italy claim to have set a new world record for the fastest wireless data transmission. They report that they were able to achieve throughput speeds above 1.2 Terabits per second, which they say beats the previous wireless data transmission speed record of 160 Gigabits per second, achieved by Korean scientists. The technology that the Pisa scientists utilized actually shares a significant similarity with fiber optics. Unlike Wi-Fi or microwave communications, which use radio-based transmissions, the Pisa scientists used a technology called free-space optical communications. In free space optics, an energy beam is collimated and transmitted through space rather than being guided through an optical cable."

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77 comments

gimme a freakin break (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990061)

They used laser beams? But the big question is, were there sharks involved?

Not really wireless (5, Insightful)

Dr.Pete (1021137) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990109)

While technically achieved without wires, the thing with WiFi is that you can used the omnidirectional nature of the transmission (along with refraction and diffraction of the signal) to access the signal anywhere within its range, often without line of sight. Naturally, free space optics requires an uninterrupted line of sight and significant alignment procedures. Now I'm not saying line of sight networking is useless (it was used to great effect after 9/11 and is great for places you need a temp. network but can't string a wire) but comparing it to radio WiFi is a bit apples/oranges.

Re:Not really wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990321)

FSO can be VERY useful when you need a backbone for a mesh network.

Re:Not really wireless (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24996775)

That's exactly what we use ours for. Gigabit FSO multi-beam laser to get fiber optic speeds into a location with no infrastructure. Then you break it out from there.

Re:Not really wireless (4, Informative)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990323)

They weren't comparing it to WiFi specifically. They were comparing it to wireless as a whole.

It is "really wireless". It doesn't use wires.

Re:Not really wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24991117)

Also, plenty of radio communication is not omni-directional. Just think WiFi cantenna, for example. Granted, the signal still spreads more for radio waves in pretty much every case than it does for a laser, but that's to be expected.

Re:Not really wireless (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24995759)

By that token Fibre Optics are "wireless" due to using an optical cable, rather than a metal wire.

The article heading is slightly misleading.

Either way, in practice, this isn't the best for communication as if LOS is broken, so is the data transmission. Simple atmospheric effects could lead to some pretty crap throughput.

Re:Not really wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24997095)

Fibre optics are a bounded/controlled medium. The distinction is really bounded/unbounded medium for "wired"/"wireless" not the type of bounded medium which in FO is a glasslike substance with certain internal reflection characteristics and wavelengths rather than a wire carrying electrical current.

Re:Not really wireless (2, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990331)

Sounds like a good replacement in terms of energy use for microwave bridging and other methods that require LoS already.

Of course, packetloss due to geese...

Re:Not really wireless (5, Funny)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990599)

Of course, packetloss due to geese...

And depending on the power of the laser, there's the inevitable worry of gooseloss due to packets.

Re:Not really wireless (2, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990735)

I suppose, but then microwave bridging with enough power makes for christmas.

You there, Boy! What day is this!

Re:Not really wireless (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#24996925)

Of course, packetloss due to geese...

The should offer the geese to keep their lives in return for some rfc1149-based network acceleration service. No strings attached, of course :)

True (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990553)

There are limits to this method, but it does have some possible implementations. Maybe we'll use directional optical links to and from satellites that need huge amounts of data transferred (Hubble/spy/moon colony).

Also, this is a cool breakthrough for the sake of science and progress in general. Though I normally join in cynicism, I can actually see some benefits in this experiment.

Re:Not really wireless (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990763)

My company uses a LOS wireless device for our main internet connection. It's cheaper than a fiber link and gives us decent bandwidth...

we're on the 4th floor of an office building and happen to have an open window pointing in the right direction though... so YMMV.

Its a fricken "laser" beam, how cool is that. (0, Redundant)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991343)

Although this, "la ser" is really fast, I dont think the "la ser" is any good if not in line of sight. This technology might be something thats good for a neighborhood internet technology.
Its still really cool to see that Italy is doing something with its self. Like I said,
"when in Rome, Do what a 'las er' would do."

Re:Its a fricken "laser" beam, how cool is that. (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#24992657)

What if we applied the Electron Directional Markings used in some high quality ethernet cables to guide to photons around corners? Surely they would see these markings and know where to go. If we set them up right we may even be able to get away with not aligning them properly.

I always knew... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990113)

I always knew those scientists in Pisa leaned toward having faster networks. They've always towered over the rest of the world, technologically.

Re:I always knew... (4, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990203)

I disagree. Many of their innovations look impressive, but upon examination, the underlying science, the "foundation", if you will, is weak, requiring extensive engineering after the fact to try to keep it stable.

Re:I always knew... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24991823)

Given the fact that the current consumer wired network rated speed is 1.0 Gbps, it is still impressive in a way...

Plus if scientific concepts could directly be commercialized us engineers would not have a job, and I refuse to be a scientist... too much math!

Re:I always knew... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24992609)

Whooosh.

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24993579)

are you at a beach or somthing?

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24993629)

Jloooogm.

(No, verdivrax-9.)

Re:I always knew... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24994147)

Whoooosh.

Re:I always knew... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24995195)

Vey punny. I mean funny. "leaned" "towered" HAHA! Actually, this is funny!

big news..... (2)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990125)

using an entirely different technology that has significant limitations with line of sight, some dudes did something that has a totally different application range as what some other dudes did before, and did it faster!

seriously, apples != oranges and wireless w/ RF != wireless w/ line of sight

Re:big news..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24991155)

Since neither the article nor the summary in any way implied otherwise, do you have a point?

What to do with it? (1)

tulcod (1056476) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990129)

For backbones and TV channels, it might be interesting to deploy this once or twice. But what's next? Where is this going to be used? Why do we need the bandwidth? I'm personally content with my 2000 kbit down/600 kbit up.

Re:What to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24996873)

"Too much is always better than not enough"!

Really (2, Interesting)

cefek (148764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990143)

there should be a difference between point-2-point speed record, and point-2-multipoint, which concerns most of us wifi-users. P2P connections are used mainly in business, and they can have backup links should, let's say' fog happen that will disperse all the transmission (reduced wisibility).

Re:Really (1, Interesting)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990255)

Couldn't a rotating prism be used to turn this into a miltipoint link? Sure, you'd lose some bandwidth and you'd still need LOS. But you could easily queue and time packet transmission in time with the rotation. Kinda like old airplanes shooting bullets through the blades.

Re:Really (1)

cefek (148764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990893)

I'm not really certain, but if you multiplex the signal, don't you sort of lose control over it? I mean, if it's easier to spot, it's easier to sniff. This would, however, solve the problem of bird flock blocking the 'net access for the whole district. So it really depends.

Re:Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990409)

Wisibility? Really? Chekov, is that you?

make it cheaper, not faster (1, Interesting)

Zobeid (314469) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990161)

Free space optics has been around for a while, and cost has been more of a stumbling block than speed. I'd much rather have a 10 mb/s rig for $500, rather than the 1000 mb/s rigs companies are selling today for $50,000.

I've been interested in the Ronja project for a while, but it's very labor intensive to build and deploy. Somebody ought to commercialize it.

Hardly off topic (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990835)

Ronja is pretty much on topic. http://ronja.twibright.com/ [twibright.com]

From their FAQ:

Material for one Ronja 10M Metropolis device costs 2000CZK and building the device takes 70 hours.

2000CZK; about $120. 70 hours though is even at minimum wage ($6.55) $500 or so. You need two of them, so really a minimum of $1,240 in costs. Then add markup, even here the devices are going to cost $2,500 just for the hardware to set up a link, add consultancy, site surveys and you're into the same ballpark as the existing commercial FSO providers.

What is off topic though, the fact that same bunch of people seem to have largely solved the problem of archiving data for 500 years. Possibly longer if vellum were used.

http://ronja.twibright.com/optar/ [twibright.com]

another tool along the same lines
http://ollydbg.de/Paperbak/index.html [ollydbg.de]

Course, the first 100 pages of any archive would have to be the ascii source code of the application to read the data encoded on the last page.

 

Re:Hardly off topic (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991623)

"70 hours though is even at minimum wage ($6.55) $500 or so"

That's why stuff is made in China :).

And that's why stuff like my radio controlled heli costs less than USD20.

Re:Hardly off topic (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991759)

Sure, but to do that you have to be able to sell millions of the things. For FSO, the market just isn't that big. How many people need to network buildings which are = 1.2km apart? The fact that there aren't FSO devices sitting on best Buy shelves beside the wireless routers speaks volumes.

 

If you want data speeds that fast... (2, Insightful)

AB3A (192265) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990163)

...the only way you'll get it is to move up in the electromagnetic spectrum. It had to be a laser based communications system.

The alternative is to smear this crap all over the electromagnetic spectrum. And at this data rate, if you really expect throughput, you can't rely on spread spectrum to save you.

crime doesn't pay. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990165)

MORE LASAGNA please with the fishes and chromiuns. Is the teleplone there because you are gaye?

Re:crime doesn't pay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990399)

The morontators have answeredf ,y cyeostyion, they are gayes bec;luyhs hftujl0-= po they "offto poiujd" my poset.

This has happened before (3, Interesting)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990173)

I was about to say the same thing about wireless being omnidirectional and "free space" optics being single point source and directional.

It occurs to me however that this is not new technology. Back in Chicago in the mid 90s, I did some interesting work at a very well funded mom-and-pop ISP that was playing with some "line of sight" (RF and optical) T-1 equivalents. The "free space optic" portion of the circuit died completely every time it rained, so it wasn't too terribly useful for anything outdoors, like shooting a high speed line across town by aiming a couple of transceivers out some open windows.

other info: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990187)

it's directional, needs no objects between the 2 points of communication, communication affected by fog/atmospheric turbulence

fastest wireless, sweet! (0, Offtopic)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990269)

I knew it was only a matter of time before they found a way to accelerate radio waves past 299,792,458 meters per second.

Higher, and higher. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990271)

"Unlike Wi-Fi or microwave communications, which use radio-based transmissions, the Pisa scientists used a technology called free-space optical communications. In free space optics, an energy beam is collimated and transmitted through space rather than being guided through an optical cable.""

So basically Shannon was right.

CMCps (4, Funny)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990277)

Another way to look at that is 6/10ths of a Comcast Monthly Cap per second.

Please, this is slashdot (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990327)

It is 3.4 porn collections per second.

Re:Please, this is slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990463)

Unfortunately, the porn collection is a poor measurement metric, because for me, that's only .34 porn collections per second...

Re:Please, this is slashdot (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990465)

I think you're underestimating the size of the typical slashdot porn collection by a couple of orders of magnitude.

Re:CMCps (2, Funny)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990467)

Another way to look at that is 6/10ths of a Comcast Monthly Cap per second.

Actually, I think you'll find that it's actually 3/5ths of a Comcast Monthly Cap per second.

Re:CMCps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24990907)

No, I think YOU will find this is actually 12/20th of a Comcast Monthly Cap per second.

Re:CMCps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24993355)

I think you would all find it would probably be referred to as 0.6 CMCps, not 6/10, 3/5, or 12/20.

Or even, 6 DeciCMCps or 60 CentiCMCps

Re:CMCps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24991167)

Yes, but how many Libraries of Congress is that?

Re:CMCps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24993615)

It's 3 Libraries of Congress, or in other words 1 undocumented-Aisle of Congress which was revealed by an Attorney at the National Press Club that only 1/3 Library of Congress is documented while the remaining is common-law and extra-terrestrial matter.

What clever scientists we have (0, Troll)

Netsplitter (983360) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990421)

They were able to achieve throughput speeds above 1.2 Terabits per second, which they say beats the previous wireless data transmission speed record of 160 Gigabits per second by Korean scientists.

They did the maths so you don't have to!

Wireless optical links (2)

Announcer (816755) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990493)

They are all around us... laptops, PDA's, etc. Even your TV remote! Much lower bitrates, obviously. Essentially, these guys used a laser beam instead of a simple LED.

Kicking it up to just above a Terabit per second is an impressive feat of technology. Unfortrunately, the range and throughput of such a system would be limited by various environmental factors- dust, smoke, and water vapor. Not to mention the power of the sun, outdoors. You also have numerous other sources of light pollution getting in the way. Using it within existing tunnels might be one way of avoiding stringing fiber through them... but it wouldn't take much to disrupt the beam. A spider's web in just the wrong place, for example, where the spider or one of its victims blocks the beam.

Still, it's pretty cool to get the data that fast through the air.

Re:Wireless optical links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24992551)

it wouldn't take much to disrupt the beam. A spider's web in just the wrong place, for example, where the spider or one of its victims blocks the beam.

Now that is what I call a bug in the system!

Re:Wireless optical links (1)

Acapulco (1289274) | more than 5 years ago | (#24993161)

Well, you could always put some sort of "cover" to this laser beam, such that no spider can get in front of it.

Right? :)

Re:Wireless optical links (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#24995123)

The devices I've seen (Ronja [twibright.com]) spread the beam out quite a bit, making it a fairly wide cylinder rather than a line. Atmospheric attenuation and sunlight are issues, but a spider web probably wouldn't block enough of the beam to make a difference. I would assume that other FSO equipment employs a similar principle.

It's glassless, not wireless (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990513)

It's not proper to call it wireless when there would be no wires in any case. It's glassless. And, as they imply, amplitude modulation of light is rather different than phase modulation of coherent RF.

ludicrous speed! (3, Funny)

glindsey (73730) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990549)

they were able to achieve throughput speeds above 1.2 Terabits per second

Unfortunately, what they didn't tell you was that all those bits were zeroes.

I built one of these an evening... (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 5 years ago | (#24990955)

Whatever bandwidth you can get into an optical fiber is easy to transmit wirelessly point-to-point. A collimating lens on the end of the TX and RX fiber and you are done.

To fill up the link with data, you need a 40Gb/s DWDM laser. You can easily add 128 different colors of these, and your link is up to 5 Tb/s.

I needed a source of light like this to test a receiver/spectrum analyzer, and put one of these together (with the 10 lasers I could find muxed together), and did not bother to mention it.

What storage did they use? (1)

teh loon (974951) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991607)

Personally, I'm more interested in how they got data read from the storage medium at 1.2 terabits/s - unless it was random data?

Re:What storage did they use? (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991955)

I admit I planted this story just to get the cable/telcos to hurry up with that last mile stuff. You have to shock these people into thinking that wires will be irrelevant before they can get the money back on their fiber investment. Now start digging up the streets before I link to the article from all my ghost blogs, get it to the top of google news and bankrupt you with bits...uh...I guess I have to add...bee-atches!

Re:What storage did they use? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 5 years ago | (#24997165)

The test runs were probably with procedurally generated data, something easy to confirm.

Semantics (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 5 years ago | (#24991929)

They report that they were able to achieve throughput speeds above 1.2 Terabits per second, which they say beats the previous wireless data transmission speed record of 160 Gigabits per second by Korean scientists.

And who could doubt them. I mean, who in their right mind could tell these scientists that 1.2 Terabits/second is not faster than 160 Gigabits/second?

Sorry to be pedantic, but can't we try to be a little precise, sometimes?

Can we say "instant porn delivery" (1)

houbou (1097327) | more than 5 years ago | (#24992183)

Wow, that's amazing. They can deliver the internet faster and in such a capacity that I would be going over my monthly limit in uh.. 1/6 of a second! :)

Vary the power of the laser... (1)

Again (1351325) | more than 5 years ago | (#24992737)

What you need is to increase the power of the laser every time the signal drops. Say a goose flies into the line, you just need to increase the power of the laser (a lot) and you could burn right through the goose without losing any packets. With a powerful enough laser, nothing could stop the downloading of 1.2 TB of information at any given second of the day.

What about cheaper fibre optics (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#24993551)

This story is intriguing but, as many have pointed out, has its obvious limitations. I thought slashdot had an article once about using plastics instead of glass for fibre optics. Why not invest more time and energy in this way? That would take the cost of fibre networking down significantly. I think, since a large cost savings could be realized, telcos would have a better chance of upgrading aging infrastructure and we might have broadband speeds that are more favorably compared in Japan.

Re:What about cheaper fibre optics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25000907)

The big cost of fiber is laying it in the ground, not the cost of the fiber itself. Hell, putting more copper in the ground would cost about the same as glass or plastic, or dead squirrels... assuming you wanted to create a line of squirrel corpses in the ground.

What was the delivery system for the data (1)

c64web (1321327) | more than 5 years ago | (#24995459)

It's amazing 1.2 Terabits per second. How did they deliver the data to the laser quick enough, even if they were just a bunch of zero's. Beats the pant off my Commodore 64 web-server. c64web.com

Forget faster. (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#24995743)

More important:

10Mbit Wireless that doesn't require line of sight.
10Mbit Wireless that has much more range. (eg, miles, not feet)

Both of the above, 'consumer' friendly and Ethernet-compatible.

Then work on a 54Mbit version.

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