Broadband technology has certainly come a long way. No one uses dial-up anymore. If anyone wants to connect to the Internet its through one of the many broadband technologies available to people. Compared to the old dial-up technology, broadband is faster and more secure. But people aren’t just contented with this. A lot of innovations are coming in the future and each one promises more speed, wider coverage, and a more secure way of connecting.
A good example of the innovations for the future concerns DSL, one of the most commonly used broadband connection at homes. A new technology is being developed overseas with the capability to increase DSL speeds dramatically – up to 30 times that of its current speed or more. The new DSL protocol, called “G.fast”, can be applied on existing DSL networks and improve its speed without the need to change existing cables. This means that if successfully developed, it can be deployed fast to anywhere that has an existing DSL network making it cheap.
DSL isn’t the only one getting an upgrade with speed using G.fast. Mobile company, Nokia is currently testing out its XG.fast technology, derived from the G.fast technology they developed. They rolled out XG.fast in the UK last year. Nokia hopes that they can get as much as ten million households subscribed if their technology proves successful.
Speaking of mobile broadband, 5G technology, the next standard for mobile and wireless networks is predicted to be fully deployed in 2020, according to The Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance and Broadband Commission, offering faster mobile Internet, wider coverage, and more stable connection. Right now, a few companies like Samsung and Google have already been developing 5G technology while Qualcomm had presented the Snapdragon X50, the first 5G modem in October last year.
Fiber Optic technology, too, is getting possible innovations. In 2014 there’s a report about a new fiber technology that could let users experience speeds up to 21 times faster than the current home fiber-broadband speeds, that have reached around 30 Mbps (not bad a for a typical home connection). This so called “multicore fiber optics” is described as “turning a one way road into a seven-lane highway”. This is because ordinary fiber today has only one core. As the name implies, multi-core fibers have multiple cores, enabling much more data to be sent through. Though this technology hasn’t been made commercial yet, according to the Journal of Lightwave Technology in its 34th volume, published in January of last year, it is already “expected as a good candidate for overcoming the capacity limit of a current optical communication system”.
Another innovation currently in development concerning fiber speed is coded modulation. In a technique similar to how wireless devices sort out signals, scientists at the University College London have created a special device made to catch different light pulses sent in different wavelengths through the optical fiber. It creates a so-called “super channel”, enabling data to be sent at speeds of around 1.125Tbps.
Finally another possible improvement in fiber concerns how much the light pulses need to be renewed as they travels through a medium before they deteriorate to keep the signal reliable. In fiber broadband this is done every 60 miles. In 2015 however researchers were able to find a way to increase the accuracy of data being sent via a frequency comb which uses signals that are precise and spaced evenly to encode information before it is transmitted, enabling them to transmit data over farther distances without the need for data to be regenerated. This would also increase the capacity of sent data and is said it might make be less expensive compared to other networks as the need to renew the light signals is reduced.
Though these improvements look exciting, we may need to wait a bit more time to see them commercially available. Bring on 2017.