Want 100Gbps internet? Grabbing one of these $5 transceivers could be a good start

An optical transceiver from Colorchip
(Image credit: colorchip)

100Gbps technology has been present in the data center for several years now thanks to the emergence of silicon photonics, which brings together electric and light signals, paving the way for faster speed transfers. 

Fast forward to April 2023 and thousands of silicon photonics modules from Intel and Israeli company Colorchip have been flooding eBay with prices starting as low as $4.50 excluding delivery.

The C100QSFPCWDM400B is a hot pluggable, 100GbE QSFP28 transceiver from Colorchip with a light green CWDM pull tab and was commercialized back in March 2016. It used a proprietary optical integration technology called SystemOnGlass to achieve fully automated photonic integration and a 2Km range on a single mode fiber (SMF). It is likely that these transceivers have been decommissioned alongside other parts (servers, switches), courtesy of a US hyperscaler (Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft or Google most probably) as they embark on the journey to 400Gbps and beyond.

Thousands of Intel 100GBASE-CWDM4 QSFP28 transceivers have been sold (or are still on sale) on eBay for just under $5. Launched in 207, they have a similar design to the Colorchip model but have a much shorter range (500m). 

What does 100Gbps connectivity allow you to do?

Now, if you want superfast 100Gbps connectivity, you will need compatible networking gear plus fiber optic cable. A new Intel Omni-Path Edge 48-Port 100GbE QSFP managed switch can cost up to $12,000 but can be had for a fraction of its price, used, on eBay (less than $700) should you want to go that way.

Businesses will of course want to have access to 100Gbps broadband to make the most of this opportunity. Google has plans to deploy 100Gbps internet in the US in the future, Vodafone and Nokia demonstrated that speed back in 2021 with Colt, Lumen and Spectrum Enterprise announcing limited 100Gbps services in the US. In the UK, Vorboss offers a 100Gbps direct access line for a mere £2,999 (about $3,700) per month although that is limited to certain parts of London.

100Gbps is 500x the speed of the average US broadband speed and most importantly, the speed remains the same downstream and upstream, making this the ideal solution for ultrafast data transfers between compatible points, either on or off-premises. 

It is, of course, totally overkilled for the overwhelming majority of households but having connectivity that’s actually faster than your local storage (think SSD) opens the door for a whole new world of possibilities: 16K content, 4K video conferencing, real-time metaverse, lifelike holograms etc. Just remember that bottlenecks will be prevalent. 

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.