Hot damn! Verizon and NEC show off terabit speeds

If there were an Olympics of pushing the envelope for a provider, Verizon would be on the gold-medalist’s platform, because the carrier is always testing out new superfast broadband in its labs and in its test networks. Today’s speed record is 21.7 terabits per second in field trials.

Verizon tested the speeds on cable measuring 1,503 kilometers (934 miles) with NEC in the Dallas area. Verizon is taking advantage of NEC’s “superchannels” to boost the capacity of a single strand of fiber. Last year it used the same gear to conduct trials running multiple speeds. The superchannel technology combines the capacity of several strands of 100 gigabit per second fiber into one big channel — imagine taping together a bunch of cocktail straws in order to suck up more liquid. From the Verizon release:

‘Superchannels’ are the next evolution of optical technology that combines several optical carriers to create a signal with greater than 100G capacity. The ability to use current field fiber to carry higher capacity rates enables carriers to avoid the need to deploy new fiber and, as a result, better utilize current network infrastructure,” said Masaaki Nakajima, senior vice president of NEC Corporation of America.

Such advancements are important, and Verizon and NEC aren’t alone in boosting the capacity, speeds and distance that light can carry our digital bits and bytes. This particular announcement was significant not only because of the capacity (those are some fat pipes), but also because of the distance over which the participants could maintain that capacity. As we consume more content on more devices, we’re pushing our long-haul networks, so trials such as this are essential to keep our packets flowing quickly and cheaply.