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Science
06 Feb 2017

New wireless technology makes 5G look slow

Terahertz transmitters and their potential uses

A research team has developed a terahertz (THz) transmitter capable of wirelessly transmitting digital data at over 10 times the speed of the 5G mobile networks which are currently under trial and expected to hit markets in 2020.

The team, from Hiroshima University, Panasonic Corporation, and Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, plans to further develop these ultra high-speed wireless circuits.

In context

Terahertz transmitters and their potential uses

Approaching download speeds nearing terabytes

"We usually talk about wireless data rates in megabits per second or gigabits per second. But we are now approaching terabits per second using a plain simple single communication channel," said Professor Minoru Fujishima from Japan's Hiroshima University.

The technical specifications of the transmitter

Technicalities

The technical specifications of the transmitter

The transmitter achieves a communication speed of 105 Gbps (=0.1 terabytes per second) on a single channel using the frequency range from 290 GHz to 315 GHz.

To put into perspective, with this speed, 4 HD movies could be downloaded in 1 second.

Although currently unallocated, the usage of this range of frequencies will be discussed at the World Radio Communication Conference in 2019.

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4G, 5G and terahertz transmitter speed comparison

The speeds of the 4G LTE networks currently in use peak out at 50 Mbps. 5G speeds, however, are much faster, and range between 3 Gbps to 10 Gbps. In comparison, terahertz transmitters, even at this primitive stage of development, already achieves 105 Gbps.

Potential uses

The potential uses of such ultra high-speed wireless tech

Wireless communications could see a major change with the implementation of these terahertz processors.

They could, for example, significantly improve in-flight network connection speeds by revolutionising how high-capacity, high-bitrate data transfer occurs between satellites in Earth orbit and terrestrial base stations.

Of course, add to that, the transmitters could enable super fast downloads from content servers to mobile devices.

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