Researchers in France announced this week that they have managed to optically transfer data at a record speed of 16.4Tbps (terabits per second). That’s the equivalent of 2.05TB - about 100 HD movies – being copied every single second.

It’s thought that the research could eventually lead to the creation of 100Gbps Ethernet connections.

The transfer didn’t happen over a few inches either – the 16.4Tbps transfers were recorded over a distance of 2,550km.

World record broadband speeds

The Bell Labs researchers said that to achieve these ludicrously high transfer speeds, several new technologies were used. These include a “highly linear, balanced optoelectronic photoreceiver and an ultra-compact, temperature-insensitive coherent mixer" – we thought it would be something like that.

This transmission was achieved using 164 Wavelength-Division Multiplexed (WDM) channels modulated at 100Gbps and represents a world record for capacity by distance.

The result is a critical step forward in the development of 100Gbps Ethernet because it ensures the maximum exploitation of the fibre bandwidth to cope with future capacity needs.

"These breakthroughs highlight the depth and breadth of the work done by Bell Labs researchers in optical networking and physical technologies around the world, and show how they must constantly improve and innovate across various technical areas to pave the way to the future of communications," said George Rittenhouse, vice president at Bell Labs research.