Standard internet transfer speeds are around 100 megabits per second (12.5 megabytes), which allows can allow real time viewing at a moderate quality, or buffered video at higher quality. Australian researchers claim to have increased transfer rates to 44 terabits per second (5525000 megabytes) which is 440,000 times faster. This would allow transfer of entire movies in one second, and they are using current internet connections to do it, not new systems. (For comparison, a 56K dialup modem sends 7KB per second, 1 megabit DSL sends 125KB per second.)
Micro-combs – optical frequency combs generated by integrated micro-cavity resonators – offer the full potential of their bulk counterparts, but in an integrated footprint. They have enabled breakthroughs in many fields including spectroscopy, microwave photonics, frequency synthesis, optical ranging, quantum sources, metrology and ultrahigh capacity data transmission. Here, by using a powerful class of micro-comb called soliton crystals, we achieve ultra-high data transmission over 75 km of standard optical fibre using a single integrated chip source. We demonstrate a line rate of 44.2 Terabits s−1 using the telecommunications C-band at 1550 nm with a spectral efficiency of 10.4 bits s−1 Hz−1. Soliton crystals exhibit robust and stable generation and operation as well as a high intrinsic efficiency that, together with an extremely low soliton micro-comb spacing of 48.9 GHz enable the use of a very high coherent data modulation format (64 QAM – quadrature amplitude modulated). This work demonstrates the capability of optical micro-combs to perform in demanding and practical optical communications networks.
Although it sounds great (excuse my cynicism), it still presumes everyone has access to such technology. Internet penetration is still low in most of the world’s poorest countries, and the networks needed are cost prohibitive.
Today, the Philippines mostly uses wifi and cable internet on Luzon. But in the 2000s when most countries were adopting cable internet, the PI couldn’t afford it. Many people still used dialup internet until around 2010, and DSL was and is still common in more rural areas because it piggybacks on phone networks that already exist. It’s slower, but they didn’t have to build anything. For much of the world, it’s still like that. 44.2 Tbit lines will only widen the disparity between the haves and have nots.
Am I saying we shouldn’t increase the potential transfer rates? No. I’m saying we shouldn’t dictate to other countries, “You have to go this fast or you can’t use the internet!” The “information superhighway” shouldn’t be dictated by roadhogs and Sunday drivers.
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When quarantines were enacted two months ago, youtube and other online services lowered their bandwidth’s transmission quality. With so many more people at home using the internet, lower bandwidth reduced throttling and increased how many users could connect at once. It was a reasonable tradeoff to prevent the system from crashing.
In 2017 during Hurricane Maria and other disasters of recent years, some companies built text-only sites both to reduce bandwidth and to prioritize vital information at a time when connections were finicky and battery (and recharging) power limited.
Facebook mobile will work on a laptop or desktop, but avoid their phone “app”
Other websites have made light versions though some have since disappeared or were destroyed (e.g. BBC).
There are many sites that offer information on how to create full featured, low bandwidth sites:
oAfrica: Designing websites for low bandwidth
Aptivate dot org: Why Design your Website for Low Bandwidth?
Aptivate lists Ten Rules for Designing for Low Bandwidth. My list would have different suggestions, but it’s a good starting point.
And while it’s a bit outdated, the Any Browser Campaign offers some good suggestions for website design.
If there’s one rule that I would tell site designers above all others: Stop acting like teenagers in 1999. Stop designing for your favourite browser to the exclusion of all others. If you build sites using the W3’s standard HTML5, it will work on every browser, including HTML4 and HTML3.2 browsers.