Research Press Release

Electronics: Existing wiring could help fibre network to deliver ultrafast broadband

Nature Communications

April 27, 2022

Current copper wiring infrastructure could support ultrafast broadband, suggests a paper in Nature Communications. The findings mean that alternative low-cost solutions for data communication may be possible, particularly in areas where fibre broadband cannot be installed.

Gigabit full-fibre broadband is a solution to providing reliable and high speed connectivity and necessitates the replacement of current copper wiring with fibre cables. However, this may not be possible in many areas, including historical and metropolitan cities and in sparsely populated rural areas, owing to the high costs involved. Future data communication may therefore require multiple complimentary technologies.

Ergin Dinc and colleagues investigate the behaviour of twisted pairs (existing, widely used cables with copper cores), at high frequencies, which meet the performance required by future communication networks. The authors theoretically study the upper limits of performance on these cables and introduce a specially designed device, a microtrip balun, which helps them perform experiments at the required frequencies. They reveal that twisted pairs can support a bandwidth of 5GHz compared to current copper infrastructure, which operates below 1GHz bandwidth. The authors suggest that current copper infrastructure could be used to support the fibre network by using it in places where fibre deployment is currently too costly.

Although the twisted pairs can only support this bandwidth over short distances, the authors highlight that the use of short segments of twisted pairs could aid the implementation of full fibre technologies.


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