Adastral Park: BT and Huawei achieve record data speed of three terabits a second

Dr Tim Whitley at Adastral Park.

Dr Tim Whitley at Adastral Park. - Credit: Archant

BT and Chinese telecoms company Huawei have claimed a new record speed for the transmission of data using conventional equipment.

Field trials conducted over a fibre link between BT’s Adastral Park research campus near Ipswich and the BT Tower in London achieved speeds of up to three terabits per second - equivalent to transmitting around 100 uncompressed HD movies per second.

The trial, monitored from BT’s Transport Network Operations Centre in Cambridge, involved a platform developed by Huawei which uses “Flexgrid” technology to compres the gaps between transmission channels, so increasing the density of channels on a fibre link and making it around 50% more efficient than a typrical core network link.

BT said the results demonstrate how its core fibre optic infrastructure could work even more efficiently in the future, reducing the need to invest in more cables as bandwidth demands from consumers and businesses continue to grow.

Neil J McRae, BT’s chief network architect, said: “Flexgrid technology is evolving quickly, and this trial has been invaluable in demonstrating the feasibility of this emerging technology in a real, truly testing environment.

“Combined with BT’s continuing investment in its network infrastructure, this outstanding breakthrough suggests we’re well-prepared for a future where new and exciting services are delivered by faster, more data-hungry applications.

“The trial result also demonstrates how we’ll be able to maximise the efficiency of BT’s existing investments, extending the life of our core network infrastructure whilst continuing to meet the needs of a 21st Century digital society.”

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Tim Whitley, BT’s managing director for research and innovation, who heads the operation at Adastral Park, said: “BT’s history of innovation is well-documented and more than 175 years after the invention of the electric telegraph, this new record shows how we’re still pushing the boundaries in the art of connecting.

“Our R&D teams at Adastral Park and other research centres in the UK, Asia, Middle-East and North America are all working flat-out on a range of forward-looking projects to keep BT ahead of the curve.

“They’re developing the innovative services that our customers around the world will continue to take advantage of, and today’s record is another example of the pioneering endeavour that we hope will benefit both our customers and shareholders well into the future.”

Zha Jun, president of Huawei’s Fixed Network Business Unit, added: “We are very pleased to have worked with BT to deliver a new world record data transmission speed over an optical fibre link in an operational network environment. In September we committed to invest over $4 billion in Fixed Broadband (FBB) technology research and development over the next three years.

“This investment will focus on products and solutions, which will support our customers, such as BT, with providing an improved service experience for their customers.

“We are living in a data-led world where the need to transmit data at ever-increasing speeds is vital. This is a challenge we have worked with BT to address and the trial is part of that. One of the strengths of our 10-year partnership with BT is our collaboration in developing and implementing technical solutions that more efficiently use BT’s existing infrastructure and today’s announcement exemplifies our commitment to innovation.”