German researchers have set a new world record for wireless data transmission at six gigabits per second. They sent the entire contents of a DVD in less than ten seconds using radio waves. The data traveled from the Uni-Center Cologne to the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR in the city of Wachtberg, nearly 37 kilometers (23 miles) away.
This demonstrates that it is possible to wirelessly transmit large amounts of data across long distances. The technology could be used to improve satellite communication and bring internet to rural and remote regions. It could also be a backup plan for fiber optic networks in case of natural disasters.
The collaborative project, called ACCESS (Advanced E Band Satellite Link Studies), included researchers from the University of Stuttgart, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, and industrial partner Radiometer Physics GmbH (A Rohde & Schwarz Company). The data was transmitted at a frequency of 71-76 GHz in the E band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is regulated for terrestrial and satellite broadcasting.
To achieve the record setting speeds, team members designed monolithically integrated millimetre-wave circuits (MMICs), which include efficient transmitters and receivers and powerful signal amplifiers. The circuits are based on two innovative transistor technologies developed and manufactured by Fraunhofer IAF. Broadband signals are amplified to a comparatively high transmission power of up to 1 watt using power amplifiers based on a gallium-nitride semiconductor. A highly directive parabolic antenna emits the signals, and the receivers have low-noise amplifiers with transistors using indium-gallium-arsenide-semiconductor layers than can detect weak signals traveling across long distances.