What's the Latest Development?

Researchers in a German lab have just increased broadband capabilities—by a lot. "The data rate is 26 terabits per second, 260 times faster than the 100-gigabit cabling used in broadband and equivalent to beaming 700 DVDs worth of data in a single second. While only the most data-intense scientific project today might find use for the new optical technology, Jürg Leuthold, a physicist at Karlsruher Institute for Technology, said it won’t be long before neighborhoods will have the need for such speed: "Commerce will find a way to fill the space," he said.

What's the Big Idea?

The development of faster data transfer speeds will run parallel to the emergence of cloud computing. As more and increasingly complex data is stored on remote servers, better transfer technology will be necessary to access it. The next developments must occur in hardware: "While there may be no practical limit to the data bandwidth glassy fiber-optic cabling can handle, the devices sending and receiving information on either end of the line do have limitations. 'Electronic computers can’t keep up. Above 100 gigabits, which is the industry standard now, processing gets difficult,' Leuthold said. 'To handle it, you would need fast processors that don't exist.'"