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BT achieves world record for fibre transmission rates – fair play @neilmcrae

BT world record broadband speed

Had an excited Neil Mcrae come up to me this morning  asking if I’d read the press release 🙂 Neil is Chief Technical Architect of BT Group. The conversation began over beer and a curry last night where Neil alluded to an important announcement the next day but declined to elaborate. Normally beer will loosen a person’s tongue but Neil doesn’t drink enough beer for this approach to work.

Next morning I had naturally forgotten all about it until prompted by the lad.

The press release, which you can read in full here, tells us that BT, in conjunction with vendor Alcatel Lucent, achieved “trial speeds of up to 1.4Tb/s with a record spectral efficiency of 5.7 bits per second per Hertz (b/s/Hz)on an existing core fiber connection. This is believed to be the fastest speed ever achieved in commercial grade hardware in a real-world environment and is equivalent to transmitting 44 uncompressed HD films in a single second.

This press release has been picked up by online media all over the world. After all 1.4Tbps is a pretty advanced performance for a fibre connection. In fact the connection made use of multiple fibre strands running off BT’s Alcatel Lucent 400Gbps capable kit. Multiple ports were used to get the speeds.

Not many companies have this kind of kit to play with but the development of advanced performance fibre transmission networks is key for large ISPs and content providers to be able to cope with the growth in consumer demand for internet services.

This particular trial majors on the efficiencies of the technology. It uses existing “old” fibre connecting BT’s Adastral Park R&D centre with BT Tower in London. This is important because it will allow bandwidth to grow using existing fibre in the ground.

BT are quoted as saying that a 1.4Tbps is the equivalent to transmitting 44 uncompressed HD films in a single second. Now I happen to know that Neil Mcrae is a big fan of the latest and greatest TVs – he is the only person I know to own a 4K TV (in fact he has a Sony 4K Ultra HD job). It’s all becoming clear.

There must be a 3rd node on the BT network with the Alcatel Lucent kit in Neil Mcrae’s back bedroom. He is going to have a Sony 4K TV in every room.  Seems obvious. 1.4Tbps is still a little overkill even with all these TVs but there is such a thing as future proofing you know. As 8K becomes available Neil will be able to upgrade his TVs without having to go to the hassle of changing his home router.


Meanwhile I think we can be proud that this kind of pioneering work is happening in the UK and I think Neil is right to have a smile on his face this morning. Onwards and upwards.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

13 replies on “BT achieves world record for fibre transmission rates – fair play @neilmcrae”

I live a quarter of a mile away from Adastral Park. We only got FTTC 2 years ago…prior to that I had just 2.5Mbps ADSL2+ (long cables, made of Aluminium). I long for the day when we can get FTTP on demand 🙂

Remember that this work drives innovation and new ways of learning better ways to do technology thus the down streaming of this work makes fibre broadband and other things cheaper and work better.

I am all for fibre, but it begs the question, why is BT deploying cabinets for FTTC instead of upgrading to fibre? and what are they doing to help those on long line lengths that are still on less than a megabit per second or even still on dial up?
Very little of this gets to the people. Just a slow dribble down an old phone line is all the people get. I would have more respect for Neil if he opened up the pipes and let the data flow instead of putting on a performance even if it was terabits. We all know you can send masses of stuff down fibre depending on the lights you use. The problem we have is that there isn’t access to that fibre when you are condemned to another decade on copper.

Be interested to know the division of work between ALU and BT on this. I imagine it went something like this:

From Alcatel/Lucent, with 150 years experience and resources including the seven-times-Nobel prize winning Bell Labs, inventions including the transistor and lasers; they bring the optics, drivers and associated amplifiers, control systems and software, integrated into a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit routing platform;

From BT – a three pin plug lead, borrowed from the kettle in the Adastral Park kitchen, since the French supplied round-pin one didn’t fit.

Seriously though, congrats to all involved, and I hope these kind of developments can be quickly translated into faster, cheaper networks for us poor customers.

uhh not quite, first this gear uses high power DC so no 3 pins needed! Aled your expertise in this field is shining through!

second a lot of work was required to work out the frequency plan and then we had to tune the signal from the ALU kit, test for errors and tune again.


Aled is only pulling your leg:) You only have to listen to Rob Evans talking about his experiences at Janet to know that even 100GigE isn’t plug and play. Just accidentally pulling out a cable could cost thousands of pounds in consultancy fees to get it all tuned up again.

Didn’t have that problem in the old carrier pigeon days but then again the hawks were a real problem.

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