I’m an old,
retired (well still officially unemployed, oops! make that “out of work”. ) Telcom Engineer. So this stuff gets me hot.
First, in the beginning there was Telegraph and on land the speed of transmission was limited mostly by the skill of the telegraph operator sending messages by hand. Various men, tinkerers and scientists, including Thomas Edison developed means of increasing the speed and recording the dots and dashes of the transmissions. “Morse Code” could be read and transmitted at a various speeds, skilled operators (aka Telegraphists) could do so at 40 words per minute (wpm= 5 characters, spaces and punctuation). The first undersea telegraph cables (due to the length of the cable and retardation of the signal caused by little understood electrical resistance of the water) could take two minutes to send one character. And yet for the British Government the £60,000 they contributed became a bargain when one message sent across the ocean to Canada prevented a entire army from embarking on a useless voyage to India when the Great Indian Mutiny ended before they could leave and shortly after the successful crossing of the Atlantic by the first transatlantic cable. (Let’s speed this up a bit.)
Almost fifty years ago, at college, I had my first computer science course. We learned Fortran, and our sole piece of computer equipment was a TTY (Teletype printer) that connected to a computer mainframe at 110 baud (the other available speed was slower, 75 baud) over a timeshare link. If I remember correctly, the bit rate was 450bps. About a decade later I bought my first modem for personal use at home. 300 baud and it used a acoustical coupler. Then I bought a 300 baud auto-dialer. Then I bought a 1200 baud modem. After that a 2400 baud modem and it plugged into a slot inside my PC. After that I had (in order); 9600 BPS external modem, 14,400bps internal modem, a 28K internal and last (modem-wise) a 56K external.
Then I got cable service from (never to be sufficiently damned) Comcast. That was in 2006 when we moved back into the newly rebuild house. The first available speeds were less than one Meg, or 1,000,000 bps. Later I paid extra for the “Performance” speed tier, roughly 3 to 5 Meg. Today, still with Comcast, after upgrading the cable modem to docsis 3.0 when I check the status on the WiFi connection link I see 300Mbps. Of course when I run Speedtest by Ookla the results are (today and before the neighborhood kiddies get home from school) 24.96Mbps. That is very close to the 25Mbps I pay Comcast for.
So. The big geek news for today.
First, remember when we worried about the government spending billions of our taxpayer dollars until they started spending trillions? Before Fiber Optic cables were developed, over copper wire and microwave the transmission rates for data and voice were measured in Kilobytes, Megabytes and Gigabytes. Well, today most of the commercial and personal data use is transmitted over Fiber Optic cables. And the current standard data rate is 4-8 Terabits/s. The big news today is a new type of fiber and a new record transmission rate of 255 Terabits/s. Over 21 times faster. Wow, isn’t that amazing? I bet you’re really excited..right! Um, Right? right…well here’s the news release.
Dr. Chigo Okonkwo: “At less than 200 microns in diameter, this fibre does not take noticeably more space than conventional fibres already deployed. These remarkable results definitely give the possibility to achieve Petabits/s transmission, which is the focus of the European Commission in the coming 7 year Horizon 2020 research programme. The result also shows the key importance of the research carried out in Europe, and in particular at TU/e with other well-known teams around the world in high-capacity optical transmission systems.”