Scientists prove incredible internet speed is possible

US research team achieves data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second using radio waves.

Question: How long would it take you to download 10 movies, all an hour and a half long, in HD?

According to Alan Willner and his team of researchers from the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, the answer to that question will soon be “one second”.

The research team has recently successfully demonstrated data transmission rates of 32 gigabits (4 gigabytes) per second by, in essence, twisting radio beams.

The research, entitled "High-capacity millimetre-wave communications with orbital angular momentum multiplexing" was published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications.

While this transmission speed may not be as fast as what can be achieved by twisting light, as demonstrated by the same team two years ago (achieving data transmission speeds of 2.56 terabits per second), it should be more reliable.

"The advantage of radio is that it uses wider, more robust beams” Willner told reporters earlier this week. “Wider beams are better able to cope with obstacles between the transmitter and the receiver and radio is not as affected by atmospheric turbulence as optics"

“This technology could have very important applications in ultra-high-speed links for the wireless ‘backhaul’ that connects base stations of next-generation cellular systems,” said Andy Molisch of USC Viterbi, who shares the credit for designing and carrying out the experiment with Willner.

Don't go harassing your ISP's customer service centre just yet, however: the speed has been achieved over 2.5 meters of free space, in laboratory conditions. The team say that future research will be on extending the transmission’s range and capabilities.

Veterans of the days of 56k dial-up can't wait - and if any one is used to waiting, they are.