Huawei Technologies and China Mobile have collaborated with Tsinghua University and Cernet.com Corp. to build what they claim is the world’s first internet network capable of achieving speeds of 1.2 terabits per second over long distances. The 3,000 kilometer network links Beijing to southern China and is being promoted as a significant technological achievement using entirely Chinese technology.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, trials of the network began on July 31, and tests have verified the capability to reach 1.2 Tbps speeds, according to Tsinghua University statements. This bandwidth is several times faster than typical internet speeds globally. Tsinghua, known as the alma mater of President Xi Jinping, is presenting the network as an industry-first built completely using homegrown Chinese technology. The university gave prominent credit to Huawei’s role in developing the network.
Huawei has been in the spotlight recently after unveiling a 5G smartphone in August containing an advanced Chinese-made processor. This sparked celebration on Chinese social media and debate in Washington about whether more should be done to limit China’s technological progress. Chinese state media are characterizing the new network as further evidence of the country’s expanding technological capabilities thanks to domestic innovation.
The claims about the network’s capabilities and the use of solely Chinese technology have not been independently verified. In February, Nokia announced achieving 1.2 Tbps speeds over a 118 km network in Europe. If China’s claims are valid, its new network would represent a significant leap in bandwidth speeds over long distances.
The network marks the latest volley between the U.S. and China over the future of technology and connectivity. While China touts its advances, Washington debates stronger actions to limit Chinese firms like Huawei over national security concerns. The unveiling of this ultrafast network using Huawei gear will likely amplify those concerns. China presents the project as a triumph of self-sufficiency, while critics see it as a worrying expansion of China’s technological footprint.
Photo by Irina Iriser.