Before the introduction of DSL and cable Internet, the fastest household Internet was 56 kilobits per second dial-up (we're not going to go into ISDN, T1, etc.). Today, the average U.S. Internet connection is 11 megabits per second, or nearly 200 times faster.
If you're willing to pay a bundle, you can get plans over 100Mbps (1,700 times faster), and Google and Comcast are rolling out Gigabit connections (17,000 times faster). However, those pale in comparison to the latest news out of Britain.
Scientists at University College London created "super-channel" fiber optics. Regular fiber optic cable, which is what Google, Verizon FiOS and others already use, sends data using pulses of light. In the past, researchers have tweaked and optimized fiber to set speed records.
However, the University College London scientists figured out a way to send "15 pulses of light at different frequencies at the same time." This got them a world-record data transfer rate of 1.125 terabits per second.
That's equal to 1,125 gigabits or 1,125,000 megabits. In other words, it's 50,000 times faster than the average British broadband speed of 24Mbps, and 102,000 times faster than the average U.S. broadband speed.
Oh, and it's 20 million times faster than good old 56kbps dial-up. At that speed, you could download an entire TV series in less than a second.
The test used standard fiber optic cable, but custom transmitters and receivers. In other words, existing fiber networks, like the ones U.S. carriers are already rolling out, could eventually be upgraded to unbelievable speeds. We're looking forward to it.