Researchers at the University of Southhampton have demonstrated a new fiber technology that allows light to traverse fiber at 99.7 % of the speed of light. This is a vast improvement over current fiber technologies that pass light at about 70% the speed of light.
It has long been understood that the glass in a fiber optics cable slows the light signal and that light can travel much faster through air. The new technology creates hollow fiber-optic cable to create a trapped air-pocket for the transmission media.
An abstract of the research can be viewed in Nature Photonics.
As can be expected, it will be a few years before the faster fiber hits the street. But the market is going to want faster fiber since the primary benefit of the new technology will be the reduction of latency on long-haul fiber routes. Researchers also postulate that the first use for the fiber might be as wiring for supercomputers since electricity ‘crawls’ through wiring at about 2/3 the speed of light.