Terahertz networks could make wireless as fast as fibreoptic cables

Over the last decade, network engineers around the world have been getting excited about a part of the electromagnetic spectrum called the terahertz band

The band, which sits between microwaves and visible light, promises a lot. It can detect explosives, screen for cancer, produce super-high resolution images, and - best of all - move huge amounts of data very quickly.

In 2012, when 4G technology was only just arriving, scientists managed transfer rates of 3Gbps. In 2016, a team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology attained 34 Gbps. Now, however, engineers at Hiroshima University have built a terahertz transmitter capable of data transfer speeds exceeding 100 Gbps.

Ultra high speed

At that rate, a DVD would transfer in a fraction of a second. An HD movie wouldn't be much slower. 

"We usually talk about wireless data rates in megabits per second or gigabits per second," said Minoru Fujishima from the Graduate School of Advanced Sciences of Matter at  Hiroshima University. 

"But we are now approaching terabits per second using a plain simple single communication channel. Terahertz could offer ultrahigh-speed links to satellites, which can only be wireless. That could, in turn, significantly boost in-flight network connection speeds, for example."

Unfortunately, though, it's not yet possible to commercially exploit the technology - the band is only available for research purposes. But its future allocation will be discussed at the 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference, so sit tight a few more years and blazing-fast wireless data transfer will be with us before you know it.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.