China launches world's first ultra high-speed internet backbone

China has launched the world’s first ultra high-speed next-generation internet backbone, with a transfer rate reaching 1,200 gigabits per second (1.2 T), marking a milestone in global internet infrastructure, experts said at a news conference at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The backbone is a high-speed data transmission line that can provide network facilities to internet service providers. Jointly developed by Tsinghua University, China Mobile, Huawei and the China Education and Research Network, the ultra high-speed internet backbone covers more than 3,000 kilometers linking Beijing, Wuhan in Hubei province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province. Professor Wu Jianping, Dean of the Institute for Network Sciences and Cyberspace at Tsinghua University, said the backbone is an essential experiment of the Future Internet Technology Infrastructure (FITI) project. The 1.2 T backbone network is capable of transferring 150 high-definition movies in just 1 second, more than 10 times faster compared to the current 100 G network. It is built on key core technologies developed independently in China, including the 1.2 T ultra high-speed IPv6 interface in the next-generation internet core router. It has been running trials since July 31 and has seen stable operation. It was estimated that the bandwidth would reach this speed around 2025, but Chinese computer scientists reached the goal earlier, he added.

Professor Xu Mingwei, Executive Dean of the Institute, compared the ultra high-speed next-generation internet backbone to a high-speed railway. “The speed has increased from the 60 kilometers per hour of an old train to the 300 km/h of a high-speed one. Previously, it required 10 railways to accommodate the number of passengers, but now, one high-speed railway is enough. We can expand the bandwidth to meet the demand of larger user traffic by building a 1.2 T internet backbone,” Xu said, as reported by the China Daily.

The South China Morning Post adds that the backbone network is more than 10 times faster than existing major routes abroad. Most of the world’s internet backbone networks operate at just 100 gigabits per second. Even the United States only recently completed the transition to its fifth-generation Internet2 at 400 gigabits per second. FITI project leader Wu Jianping from the Chinese Academy of Engineering said the superfast line was “not only a successful operation”, but also gives China the “advanced technology to build an even faster internet”. Backbone networks are pivotal to national education and research, as well as the rapidly growing need for data transfer from applications such as connected electric vehicles and mines that use industrial 5G technology. “The FITI project is unprecedented across the world,” Wu told a work meeting in May. “It is open to society and is capable of supporting experimental trials of innovative network structures.” He added that FITI – which started in 2013 and is supported by the government, managed by the Education Ministry, and built with the help of Tsinghua University and 40 other universities – would be ready by the end of this year.