Future internet speeds – download a DVD in 0.0023 seconds

Fiber opticsResearchers at Bell Labs have managed to transfer optical data at the incredible rate of 16.4 Tbps over a 2,550 km distance (1,584 miles).

That is 2.05 terabyte (2,050 gigabyte) per second, which is leaps and bounds ahead of what normal network equipment can currently handle.

What 16.4 Tbps transfer speeds are capable of

To give you some perspective of how blazingly fast such a connection is, here are some examples of how long it would take to transfer some common storage media over it:

    • One DVD (4.7 gigabyte) – 2.3 milliseconds
    • One Blu-ray Disk (50 gigabyte) – 24.4 milliseconds
    • One 500 gigabyte hard drive – 244 milliseconds


Once the internet is capable of these kinds of transfer rates, almost instant backups and synchronization over the internet will be possible.

This is also good news from an uptime perspective, which lies close to our hearts (Pingdom being an uptime monitoring service). Lightning-fast data synchronization between multiple data centers is a Good Thing ™, especially for websites and services that use more than one location to provide redundancy.

Google could stop using FedEx

In a previous post (FedEx still faster than the internet) we explained why sometimes it’s faster to carry data on disks from one location to another (often called sneakernet) than transferring it over the internet.

For example, Google uses FedEx to transfer massive amounts of Hubble space telescope data. It’s actually faster for them to send the 120 terabyte of space telescope data with overnight delivery than transferring it over the internet.

From our previous post:

[Google] sends actual physical disk arrays via regular mail, something they have dubbed, for fun, FedExNet. This allows them to get the data within 24 hours.

To transfer the same amount over the internet in 24 hours, Google would have to be able to achieve transfer rates of more than 11 gigabit/s running constantly maxed out. On a regular 100 megabit connection, transferring 120 terabyte of data would take almost four months (111 days).

However, with the transfer rates that Bell Labs achieved, it would only take one minute to transfer those 120 terabyte of data. Google could probably live with that… 🙂

(Photo courtesy of Wysz.)


  1. There are new memory technologies in the pipeline (like MRAM) which merge hard disk non-volatility with DRAM (or even SRAM) speeds. By the time such a fiber network gets deployed (we still have an obscene amount of dark fiber in the ground today in the US that isn’t even used), the ability to receive such data rates will be available.

    The bigger concern is whether such networks will ever see the light of day *in the USA*. Other countries like Korean, Singapore, various European, sure they will get it because they place the value of the utility above the value of lining the pockets of a small group of outdated and backward telecom giants. There is only a 50-50 chance the US will ever benefit from this.

    The fact that so much dark fiber goes unused already is evidence and example of what resistance such technology will face. You can already see the gears turning in the telecom world: “Fedex charges $30 for a package so we should charge the equivalent or more (because it’s faster)…” which of course is how the we the Bell telephone system that made it illegal to own your own phone or connect non-Bell equipment like modems to the network.

    In contrast, it was the unlimited, nearly unmetered bandwidth economic model that created the Internet and enabled it to do *all* the things it does, which is in direct opposition to the Bell model and precisely why AT&T, et al, are fighting net neutrality and trying to wall off the net so that is looks like your cell phone’s internet rather than your ISP’s.

  2. Dont kid yourself… they will get it in the US… and offer it to all …. AT THE RIGHT PRICE!!! but this will also wait until machines are capable of reading info that fast!!

  3. How much will this cost to setup all the system from home to home? Are all the peopel willing to pay for it? Even the cable companies have problems to funding this, I think it would cost billions of dollars to get it done.

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