‘T-Rays’ offer extra spectrum for Wi-Fi

Japanese researchers discover new connectivity capabilities with the terahertz band

Spectrum is in short supply when it comes to data connections, but researchers from Japan claim to have discovered a new band to provide extra capacity for networks.     

Research published in Electronics Letters from scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology claimed to have held a 3Gbps link at a frequency of 542GHz using the T-Ray band, which sits between microwave and infrared and appears anywhere between 300GHz and 3THz.  

The data rate runs around 20 times faster than any commercially available Wi-Fi and could support speeds of up to 100Gbps. However, the practical uses of the technology are slim.

The lower the frequency, the easier it is to pass it over long distances or through more materials. This is why the spectrum marketplace has become so crowded in the smaller ranges.

If you look at mobile 3G connections, for example, these have been forced to sit at higher spectrum levels due to the fight for low band spectrum, so they still have difficulties when in buildings or built-up areas to pass through walls.

The T-Ray band data rate runs around 20 times faster than any commercially available Wi-Fi, but its practical uses are slim

With such a high frequency for this T-Ray experiment, scientists have predicted the connections would only travel around 10m and would be difficult to pass through multiple materials. This would make it suitable for operations within a datacentre, but not for use in commercial Wi-Fi products.

Current frequency in the UK sits at 275GHz and the fight to buy up the best bands is currently being headed up by the mobile operators.

Following the switch-off of analogue TV signals this year, two older and lower frequencies will be made available – 800MHz and 2.6GHz.

Communications regulator Ofcom has arranged an auction for the spectrum at the end of 2012, enabling all the mobile operators to purchase the bands and use it for either an extension of their 3G networks or to roll out 4G networks in the future.  

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