14th November 2023 – (Beijing) China has achieved a significant milestone by launching the world’s first next-generation internet service, surpassing industry expectations by two years. The backbone network, which acts as a primary data route connecting Beijing, Wuhan in Central China, and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, can transmit data at an astounding speed of 1.2 terabits per second – over 10 times faster than current major routes.
Spanning more than 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) of optical fibre cabling, the line was activated in July and officially unveiled on Monday after successfully passing all operational tests. This achievement, a collaboration between Tsinghua University, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies, and Cernet Corporation, defies expert forecasts that ultra-high-speed networks of 1 terabit per second would not emerge until around 2025.
Most of the world’s internet backbone networks currently operate at a speed of just 100 gigabits per second. Even the United States recently completed the transition to its fifth-generation Internet2, which operates at 400 gigabits per second.
The Beijing-Wuhan-Guangzhou connection is part of China’s Future Internet Technology Infrastructure (FITI), a project that has been in development for a decade and represents the latest iteration of the national China Education and Research Network (Cernet).
Wu Jianping, the project leader of FITI from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, hailed the superfast network as not just a successful operation but also a technological advancement that empowers China to build an even faster internet. At a press conference held at Tsinghua University, Huawei Technologies Vice President Wang Lei highlighted that the network has the capacity to transfer data equivalent to 150 high-definition films in just one second.
Backbone networks play a vital role in national education, research, and the increasing demand for data transfer in applications such as connected electric vehicles and industrial 5G technology used in mining operations.
The FITI project, which began in 2013 and is supported by the government, managed by the education ministry, and built with the assistance of Tsinghua University and 40 other universities, aims to be operational by the end of this year. It is an unprecedented initiative globally, offering an open platform for society and supporting experimental trials of innovative network structures, as stated by Wu.