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Southampton University scientists part of FASTNET program to enable ultrafast internet

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A project involving University of Southampton scientists is among a group of so-called prosperity partnership projects worth up to £149 million, which is advancing cutting-edge research to invest in the UK's future.

Scientists at the city's university are teaming up with industrial partner Microsoft in a project named FASTNET to advance a new fibre optic cable to create a new generation of datacentres and optical networks.

It is one of 19 projects funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - part of UK Research and Innovation.

READ MORE: University of Southampton acquire city centre building

FASTNET aims to mass-produce a revolutionary new type of fibreoptic cable that increases by 50% the speed at which data propagates around the globe.

The cables transmit information through an air hole rather than a glass-filled centre and enable ultrafast internet and cloud services.

Professor Francesco Poletti from Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre and Partner Researcher at Microsoft and all the co-investigators from both organisations have high confidence that this Prosperity Partnership will bring huge socio-economic benefits to the UK economy.

Dr Andrew Bourne, director of partnerships at EPSRC said: "Prosperity Partnerships demonstrate how business and academia can come together to co-create and co-deliver research and innovation that address industry-driven challenges and deliver economic and societal impact.

"These new projects showcase the breadth of research and innovation in the UK, covering a wider range of sectors, and support the UK’s ambitions to be a science superpower and an innovation nation."

Other projects involve a new MRI scanner to improve the diagnosis of lung diseases, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a new generation of air travel technologies to help decarbonise aviation and pave the airways for hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.

Other industrial partners on the projects include BAE Systems, AstraZeneca, BASF and QineitiQ.


Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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