Engineers Solve Capacity Limit Problem for Fiber Optic Networks

A group of California scientists reported this week that they have broken the so-called capacity limit for fiber optic networks that transmit data across the World Wide Web. The breakthrough paves the way for future networks that will carry more data at a faster pace and at a lower cost. The development should also alleviate concerns that existing fiber optic networks will simply quit working one day due to an overload of data traveling through them. While the new technology is still in its infancy phase, and much work needs to be done, but the news should quiet doomsday prognosticators predicting a fast-approaching apocalypse when data flow becomes too much for existing networks.

As global Internet use has skyrocketed in recent years, engineers have been increasing the power of the signals to increase transmission speeds and cut down on interference between signals sent along the same fiber optic lines. If you boost the power of these signals too much, however, the signals interfere with each other to the extent that information is lost. It’s because of this limitation that pessimist techies have begun predicting a time when our data use will simply outpace the fiber optic networks, some expecting Doomsday in as little as five years. This week’s development should quiet those concerns, however, as engineers believe they have solved the capacity crunch issue for fiber optic networks.