World record for data transmission: 1 Petabit per second

1 Petabit per second is equivalent to the ability to send 8K video to 10 million people simultaneously.

The Network Systems Research Institute of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT / Japan; President: Hideyuki Tokuda, Ph.D.) developed and demonstrated the first large-scale optical switching test capable of handling optical signals 1 Petabit per second. 

This demonstration made use of state-of-the-art large-scale, low-loss optical switches based on MEMS technology, three types of state-of-the-art spatial division multiplexer fibers and included signal routing with capacities from 10 Terabit per second to 1 Petabit per second. This corresponds to more than 100 times the capacity of the networks currently available.

This is a major step forward in the early implementation of petabit-class optical backbone networks, capable of supporting the growing requirements of Internet services, such as broadband video streaming, 5G mobile networks or Internet of Things. As such, the results of this demonstration were recognized by the scientific community with a post-term presentation at the 45th European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC 2019).


NICT has collaborated extensively with academia and industry to develop new types of fiber optic technologies and provide petabit-class communications for short- and long-range backbone networks, as well as data center networks. This included achievements such as the record transmission of the petabit class on a single fiber (September 2015, September 2018) and the longest link using spatial division multiplexing amplifiers (March 2019).

However, transmission of the petabit class requires switching technologies of the petabit class to reliably manage and route large amounts of data through complex networks. Until now, these technologies were beyond reach because existing approaches are limited by complexity and / or performance.


NICT has successfully implemented a network demonstration using state-of-the-art large-scale spatial optical switching, targeting next-generation petabit-class optical networks using spatial division multiplexing. The experimental test network supported data rates from 10 Terabit per second to 1 Petabit per second on three types of state-of-the-art multicore fibers and included practical requirements for real networks, such as protection switching. The total capacity of the network was 1 Petabit per second, corresponding to the simultaneous transmission of 8K-TV to 10 million people. The system was demonstrated in 4 fundamental scenarios that constitute the building blocks of the next generation fiber optic networks.

1. Optical switching of 1 Petabit per second of data

2. Redundant configuration to support network failures or fiber breaks

3. Branching of 1 Petabit signals per second in different types of optical fibers with various capacities

4. Management of lower capacity signals (10 Terabit per second) in the network of 1 Petabit per second

The results of this demonstration were awarded with a post-term presentation at the 45th European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC 2019), held in Dublin, Ireland, in November. This is one of the largest international conferences in the field of fiber optic communications. .

Future perspectives

NICT will continue to pursue the advancement of ultra-high-capacity telecommunications networks in collaboration with industry, academia and the Japanese government.


Felipe Santos
Felipe Santos is a Cloud and Security Architect, with experience in Windows Server, Cluster, Storages, Backups Veeam and Office 365 environments.



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