New data transmission record - 60 DVDs per second

As the world’s internet traffic grows relentlessly, faster data transmission will logically become crucial. To enable telecommunications networks to cope with the phenomenal surge in data traffic as the internet population moves past a billion users, researchers are focusing on new systems to increase data transmission rates and it’s not surprising that the world data transmission record is continually under threat. Unlike records where human physical capabilities limit new records to incremental growth, when human ingenuity is the deciding factor, extraordinary gains are possible. German and Japanese scientists recently collaborated to achieve just such a quantum leap in obliterating the world record for data transmission. By transmitting a data signal at 2.56 terabits per second over a 160-kilometer link (equivalent to 2,560,000,000,000 bits per second or the contents of 60 DVDs) the researchers bettered the old record of 1.28 terabits per second held by a Japanese group. By comparison, the fastest high-speed links currently carry data at a maximum 40 Gbit/s, or around 50 times slower.

“You transmit data at various wavelengths simultaneously in the fiber-optic networks. For organizational and economic reasons each wavelength signal is assigned a data rate as high as possible”, explains Prof. Hans-Georg Weber from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut HHI in Berlin, who heads a project under the MultiTeraNet program funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

A few weeks ago the scientist and his team established a new world record together with colleagues from Fujitsu. Data is transmitted in fiber-optic cables using ultrashort pulses of light and is normally encoded by switching the laser on and off. A pulse gives the binary 1, off the 0. You therefore have two light intensity states to transmit the data. The Fraunhofer researchers have now managed to squeeze more data into a single pulse by packing four, instead of the previous two, binary data states in a light pulse using phase modulation.”

“Faster data rates are hugely important for tomorrow’s telecommunications”, explains Weber. The researcher assumes the transmission capacity on the large transoceanic traffic links will need to increase to between 50 and 100 terabits per second in ten to 20 years. “This kind of capacity will only be feasible with the new high-performance systems.”

From GizMag

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AT&T plans to roll out high-speed DSL to rural Texas

AT&T Inc., the state’s largest communications company, is on track to introduce high-speed Internet service to every community in Texas by year’s end.

Working under a mandate set by Senate Bill 5, San Antonio-based AT&T (NYSE: T) plans to equip every switching location served by the company in Texas with the capability of providing high-speed Digital Subscriber Line Internet service. This includes rural communities in Texas.

Since the bill’s passage, AT&T announced plans to invest $800 million in new technology in Texas over the next three years. TXU Utilities Inc., a division of Dallas-based TXU Corp. (NYSE: TXU), also announced previously that it plans to invest $150 million to deliver broadband over power lines.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick say Senate Bill 5 will ensure broadband services are available to all Texans.

State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5 last year during a special session of the Texas Legislature. More than 90 percent of legislators voted in favor of the bill.

“When I asked the Legislature to update Texas’ communications laws in my State of the State address before the 2005 session, this is exactly the outcome I knew we would see if we did the job right,” Perry said. “This is a perfect example of how good policies lead to good things for Texas.”

State Sen. Frank Madla, D-San Antonio, agreed.

“The ability to communicate is the key for our communities and businesses to compete in the 21st century economy,” he added.

Published in Dallas Business Journal.

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Florida High-speed Internet gets faster

Bright House Networks is increasing the speed of its high-speed Internet service, which will allow faster downloading of music and movies, as well as smoother online gaming.

Company officials said the higher speeds will not add any costs to current or future customers. In fact, the company said it is dropping the price of its fastest connection, Road Runner Premium, by $25 a month.

“We are increasing speed so customers can have access to very rich content: photos, high-speed gaming, movies and music,” company spokesman Brian Craven said Tuesday. “Streaming audio and video are two of the hottest areas.”

Maximum speeds will increase by 25 percent for the high-end Road Runner Premium service; will increase by 40 percent for standard Road Runner high-speed Internet, which most of its customers have; and will double for the lower-end, “entry-level” Road Runner Lite. The changes take effect March 1.

Increasing the connection speed is a “huge plus . . . for anyone downloading movies, songs or live-feed streaming
video,” said Matt Phelps, owner of Gamer HQ in Palm Bay. “The more bandwidth, the better.”

A fast connection also could give a gamer an edge when battling online opponents because it gives the player a “better response time,” Phelps said, so that person could more quickly dodge incoming attacks and hit enemies.

Bright House officials say their fiber-optic network — a $350 million investment finished in 2000 — has the capacity to have even faster downloads. But they say they won’t raise the speed higher until content gets even more data-heavy.

The company won’t say exactly how high download speeds can go in the future.

The latest “speed enhancement” from Bright House is its third in three years.

Bright House has more than 800,000 high-speed Internet, cable television and digital phone customers in nine Central Florida counties, including Brevard. The company does not disclose customer counts by individual county or service.

Published in Florida Today, Business section.

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Going broadband in South Africa

You’re at home. You want information fast. The internet will have it. You fire up your modem.

You yawn; make coffee; tap your fingers; imagine tumbleweed rolling across the screen while you wait for your connection to Google.

An all-too familiar scenario? You might consider going broadband. But what the hell is it? And what are ADSL, 3G, wireless, and capping?

In a nutshell, broadband is a “broad bandwidth” high-capacity permanent link to the internet which, in theory at least, provides high speed access — for normal web surfing, streaming audio or video, downloading large files or playing online games.

ADSL, despite standing for the tongue-twisting Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, simply means high-speed internet access using a telephone line. And it’s currently the most popular of the broadband options available in South Africa.

Starting block

To get started you’ll need an ADSL modem, which range in price from around R600 to R2000, although some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are giving them away for less if you sign a broadband contract.

You’ll also need a phone line from Telkom, which involves both line and ADSL installation (once-off fee of R400) and a monthly rental for both the line and digital line (the price of which depends on the bandwidth or speed of your connection).

Then you still have to decide which ISP to go with.

There are plenty of choices out there, but bear in mind that no matter what service provider you opt for, Telkom still controls the majority of ADSL infrastructure.

IT journalist James Francis points out two important rules to stick to when choosing an ISP: “Firstly, do not sign a contract that disallows month-to-month patronship — the ability to switch from one ISP to another is important in the turbulent local market.”

“And secondly, invest in an email address that isn’t ISP-bound, as this will make navigating through the ADSL market for the best deal much easier.”

You need to choose a bandwidth option — effectively the diameter of the “pipe” connecting you to the internet, so the higher the bandwidth, the faster your connection. These range in speed — and price — from 192Kb per second (compared to the 56Kbps of a standard modem) to 1024, theoretically 20 times faster than your old (un)faithful dialup connection.

And then you have to consider the amount of surfing — or file uploading and downloading — you do. Certain ISPs offer a fixed “cap”, limiting the amount of traffic (or information you transfer) in a month.

So, for example, if the package you choose comes with a one gigabyte cap, you’ll find your connection speed slow to an unbearable crawl once you’ve transferred more than 1GB of data in that month.

Other options, such as Imaginet’s, are more flexible. Operating like a cellphone contract you pay for a base amount of traffic (for example 2GB) that best suits your needs, although you’re not limited to the base. If you use more than the base, you’re only billed for the amount of extra traffic you use in predetermined increments.

Making the choice

Depending on how much time you spend on the net, your bandwidth and capping limit plays an essential part.

For beginners, Francis advises users to start with a small line and a basic flexible package, so that you can add bandwidth as you need it, instead of the hard-capping system.

For example, if you simply want to use internet to surf or check mail, you can pick a line under the 512Kbps mark.

But for serious time on downloads and constant Windows updates, for example, he recommends the DSL 1024 line.

“Unfortunately, there are no premium service for heavy users, unless you try ISPs that offer bandwidth at good rates”, says Francis.

And what will you end up paying the ISP?

Prices vary from operator to operator, so it’s worth shopping around using a site like Telkom’s least expensive option comes in at around R500 per month, you’ll get a 3GB usage limit, while on the upper end, you can expect to pay around R900 a month for a DSL 1024 connection.

But if you can’t see the reason in spending close to a thousand rand a month for internet services, there are less expensive choices. You can pick up a 1GB 192 service for R145 per month with M-Web, while a 2GB deal can go for between R200 to R300 a month with lesser-known ISPs, but be aware that some of these deals involve signing on for a minimum contract period.

Expanding your choice

Another broadband option is wireless — a digital, satellite based connection provided by Sentech.

The service comes with a free modem at about R850 a month, but reception is restricted to urban areas — limiting the spirit of free wireless roaming — and comes with a potentially restrictive 25-month contract capped at 20GB.

Alternatively, MTN and Vodacom have devised their own 3G cellphone-based services. These essentially allow you to access the Net from your laptop anywhere you have cellphone reception, with 256Kbs download speed — the same as wireless.

The costs, ranging from R1 per megabyte, are added to your monthly itemised phone bills, but the modems aren’t interchangeable between the two networks.

By Marchelle Hermanus, published on

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LivePR - a Live PageRank Firefox Extension

A few weeks ago, we posted about the Live PageRank calculator. Things have been a-happenin’ since then, and there is now a LivePR Firefox extension available that displays the Live PageRank value for the webpage you are currently browsing. Nifty little tool indeed.

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