Pioneering research could make the internet 100 times faster
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Issued on 28 January
2011 - BIS
David Willetts, Minister for
Universities and Science, today announced £7.2 million of investment
that could revolutionise the internet.
The six-year ‘Photonics
HyperHighway’ project will bring together world-leading scientists from
the University of Southampton and the University of Essex with industry
partners, including BBC Research and Development, to pioneer new
technologies that could make broadband internet 100 times faster.
The project, funded by the
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will look
at the way fibre optics are used, and develop new materials and devices
to increase internet bandwidth. This will ensure that the web can cope
with more broadband subscribers and the increasing use of services such
as internet television and music downloads.
These breakthroughs would
also bring improvements to many industries including retail and
banking, which would both benefit from faster transaction times.
Announcing the investment
during a visit to officially open the University of Southampton’s
award-winning Mountbatten Building, where much of the research will be
conducted, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:
“The internet is fundamental
to our lives and we use it for a huge range of activities - from doing
the weekly food shop to catching up with friends and family. The number
of broadband subscribers has grown vastly in the past ten years, and we
need to ensure the web infrastructure can continue to meet this demand.
“On top of this, the
internet industry is worth an estimated £100 billion in the UK, so it
is in our interest to make it even better for businesses and help boost
“The Photonics HyperHighway
project has the potential to truly revolutionise the internet, making
it much faster and more energy-efficient. The project is also a shining
example of the UK’s world-leading role in this area of research, and I
look forward to the exciting breakthroughs it will bring.”
Professor David Payne, of
the University of Southampton, who is leading the Photonics
HyperHighway project, said:
“Now is the time to look
ahead to develop the UK infrastructure of the future. Our ambition is
nothing less than to rebuild the internet hardware to suit it to the
needs of 21st-century Britain.
“Traffic on the global
communications infrastructure continues to increase 80 per cent
year-on-year. This is driven by rapidly expanding and increasingly
demanding applications, such as internet television services and new
concepts like cloud computing. What this project proposes is a radical
transformation of the physical infrastructure that underpins these
Over the past 25 years,
optical fibres have revolutionised communications, transmitting more
information over greater distances than could ever have been achieved
with copper wires.
Through looking at every
detail of the infrastructure that underpins the internet, the Photonics
HyperHighway project has the potential to achieve seamless, ultra-fast
connections that will link people and business across the world.
1) The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
(EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and
physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £850m a year in research and
postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of
2) The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and
research institution with a global reputation for research and
scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science,
social sciences, health, arts and humanities.
3) The University of Essex is one of the UK's leading academic
institutions and in the top ten universities in the UK for teaching and
research. Since opening in 1964, the University has grown in both
reputation and size, developing a worldwide reputation for top quality
teaching and research. There are now more than 10,000 students,
studying at three campuses across Essex. Academic departments span the
humanities, social sciences, science and engineering, and law and
4) The Photonics HyperHighway project’s industry partners are
BBC Research and Development (www.bbc.co.uk/rd),
and Oclaro (www.oclaro.com).
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BIS Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-02-02 00:37:35 in Computer Articles