Shadow network hits speeds up to 100 times faster than Google Fiber

by: Jonathan FeistJune 23, 2014
Speed Tests T-Mobile 3G Portland OR

Moto G on T-Mobile 3G in Portland, OR

What do you consider to be fast internet? 10 megabits per second? What about 100mbps? We’ve heard that LTE-A service in South Korea is pushing upwards of 400mbps, and that Google Fiber clocks in up to 1Gbps, but is that good enough? We are learning that certain government agencies have their hands on their own shadow network that is getting real world, cross country transfers up to 91Gbps.

The private pipeline is called ESNet, short for Energy Science Network, it is supervised by the US Department of Energy and is used by the likes of NASA and Science National labs. The network also juts out of the U.S. with pipes headed to international scientific locations, such as CERN.

Scientists and researchers at the various connected locations across the United States are using the network to transfer large files and data sets like genome sequences from the Human Genome Project and data from the large Hadron Collider.

ESnet US Shadow Network

Click image to enlarge

The U.S. shadow network is designed using mainly commercially available hardware. Although these guys are not in the business of providing internet to the masses, we can still think of them as guinea pigs. Someone has to make sure that 100Gbps is safe for home use, who knows what could go wrong with those sorts of speeds.

If the thought of 100Gbps internet speeds is exciting to you, then you’ll love that the same crew of researchers and hardware manufacturers are now working on attaining 400Gbps using the same basic infrastructure. I can only hope that the then deprecated 100Gbps hardware could find its way to an ISP near you, in the hopes of seeing faster and less expensive speeds hitting every home and mobile device across the globe.

100Gbps is a great network speed, but we have to wonder how long it will be before the average consumer actually needs these sorts of speeds. Let’s just say that you are the average consumer, what would you do with 100Gbps data speeds?

  • Dave Weinstein

    It’s still more of a cost/billing problem than a speed problem. What’s the point of having 100Gb speed when your carrier puts a 3GB monthly data cap on your usage? By my calculations, that means that I’d reach my data cap in 1/3 second.

    • Aniruddh

      I agree with you. I can bear slower speeds, but data caps are a no-go.

    • Happy

      I think you are mixing up two things. 100GB/s is the speed achieved on fixed connections and the 3GB cap is on a mobile plan, I assume. To the best of my knowledge there are no caps of less than 50/100GB on fixed connections in the developed world. My cap is 150GB and I have the cheapest offer of the incumbent in Belgium.

    • WitnessG

      Just cause your internet speed is super fast doesn’t mean you will hit your cap any faster, unless you start downloading everything you possibly can. If you still use it like you normally would then you won’t have an issue.

    • oooooz
      I get a decent speed and no download limits, all from Sky in the UK but who wouldn’t want faster.

    • Victoria

      You are talking about mobile networks right? Because broadband connections have no Data-caps I believe.

  • Now the we’ve got high speed Internet that breaks the sound barrier and stuff, I hope they can now focus on making it available everywhere. Not in the US only, big cities, etc.. Everywhere… Imagine a world where the Internet is stable everywhere, especially on our toilet.

    • Happy

      You must be kidding, right? Sound barrier? You do realize that light is immensely faster than sound and the transmissions we are discussing are based on light in optical fiber. To give you an idea speed of light in vacuum is 300000000 meters per second, and sound in air travels with 340 meters per second. Like a million TIMES difference. You’ve never seen a lightning on the horizon and heard the thunder only seconds later?

      • Wow, you must be fun at parties. I kinda used the wrong analogy too, so my bad. Internet is faster than sound since they use light on fibre optic to transfer data. But main point is, we’ve reached the point where (at least currently) availability is more important than speed.

        • Happy

          Oh, so if I understand correctly, parties are only for dumb people that discuss dumb topics and listen to debilitating music with repetitive dumb lyrics such as “I love you, I love you…” or “I miss you, I miss you…”. :-) Facts and learning and improving are a taboo. If this is fun – thank you – not for me. I will leave this “fun” for bus drivers and shop assistants. And by the way if a fashion designer talks about his field, this is cool. If a telecom engineer talks about his field – this is boring. See the discrimination here?

          Availability and speed are kind of linked. What is your definition of availability? Is 56kbps available internet? Is 512 kbps available internet? How about 12Mbps? I leave in the centre of Brussels, but because my phone line is too long (It is linked directly to the local exchange instead of the street cabinet) I have only 12 Mbps even though the provider offers 50 Mbps.

          • Hahaha, dude, take chill pill. Why so serious? It’s just an expression 9gagger use when someone can’t take joke. Have fun, open hope it’ll cheer you up. Sorry if I offended you ;)

            Actually more like if you’re in the middle of the forest or on a remote area you get no Internet kinda availability. Make Internet available like oxygen availability stuff you know. Like in your case it’d be faster and more stable if towers were near.

    • sluflyer06

      I have no problems with internets in the bathroom. My Nexus 5 has a happy 300Mb connection to my router which is connected to my cable modem getting 100Mb :)

  • Garbonzo

    I think I pay enough taxes and deserve free 100 Gb internet everywhere in the US. Screw these other big budgets (defense, etc), I want my free internet dammit!

  • HitokiriX

    100Gbps? Jergens stock would go through the roof…

    • dsDoan

      How would faster internet speeds result in my elbows drying out?

      • HitokiriX

        You’d be dehydrated from your nonstop activities associated with the oodles of porn you will be downloading.

  • wat

    I would download the entire internets

    • Twice! Must have a back up.

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      You could download it in 4K resolution

  • GCI (local company in Alaska) offers 200mbps/5mbps already. They are aiming to offer 1gbps in some areas next year.

    Maybe lower-48 ones need to start catching up to Alaska!

    • That is pretty nice Amanda, I’d love 200Mbps. I recently helped ‘upgrade’ a business in small town Canada to 50Mbps/5Mbps for their office. 32 people in the office, and 50 down is the best we could get without going to a full T1 line. 50 is good enough for most of their work, but the moment someone tries to upload a video to YouTube on that 5Mbps, game over.

      I think Google Fiber will be good enough for me, when/if it comes to town.

  • Elnest Wijaya

    I will use my android phone system to run “Speed​​Test” over and over again, to see results, in order to make sure I was not dreaming.

    (Currently I only have 1mbps)

    • dsDoan

      When LTE was first introduced to my town, I ran up gigabytes worth of speed tests. I couldn’t get enough of seeing 70~ meg down, 20~ meg up.

  • Balvinder Makkar

    And am still on 512 kbps..:-P
    And on mobile network on edge..:-P

  • Guest

    Meanwhile at home:

    • RarestName


    • mobilemann

      wow, i have a verizon ipad and a at&t note 3. The ipad got 65Mb/s down and 34Mb/s up last night (verizon just expanded their LTE bands in NYC where i live) A friends 5s get’s 25Mb/s on t-mobile here, and i get like 15. Fuck at&t.

      • sluflyer06

        Your sample data is not representative of AT&T as a whole. My LTE from them has a low point of about 25Mb and easily achieves 45+ even at 70mph on the highway.

        • mobilemann

          NYC is a great representation of how well a network is designed, here they are actually stressed. Where are you? …

          • sluflyer06

            St. Louis, tad over a million people. But here AT&T is faster than Tmobile and Verizon is about on par with AT&T so its not like load just makes everything faster or slower. AT&T is garbage in Florida but honestly I’ve been fine with AT&T in Manhattan on lots of trips but never speedtested there.

          • mobilemann

            yeah, we have just under 20 million in the NYC area (probably more during the day with commuters)

            AT&T’s service is bad, only thing worse in the city is Sprint.

    • sluflyer06

      That hurts, our area just got a free upgrade from 30Mb to 100Mb this month at the basic service level. Averaging closer to 105 though!

      • Nathan Borup

        They must have just rolled out google fiber in your area or something to be able to upgrade to 100Mb for free…

        • sluflyer06

          Nope, its just Charter’s standard internet service for $44.99 (post intro pricing). Google Fiber is nowhere near here.

    • PoisonApple31

      You must be the guy that ruins Xbox Live multiplayer for everyone.

    • Corbin Crutch

      That’s fast for me….

  • Mattias Jonsson

    Dreamhack Winter 2011 had an internet speed of 120Gbps

    • There is some slick stuff out there. I removed from the article a bit about some guys in the UK that managed a 1.4Terabit connection from London to Ipswich, but that was a direct fiber link. The 91Gbps here was achieved in transfers clear across the U.S. with various hops on different hardware. Anyway, I hope more backbones like this and what Dreamhack put together can be put in place so that we can start seeing more gigabit speeds to the home.

  • 100gbps? I have to wait long :P

  • Roberto Tomás

    my list of important internet stuff for the government to be into:
    1. net neutrality
    2. level playing field for municipalities or third parties to offer internet

    100. Making Caturday a national holiday
    101. 100gbps internet

    • Corbin Crutch

      You should make a full list

  • Jayfeather787

    Just wow.

  • dave


  • Amadeus Klein

    Lol, we’ll never see it in the us, not in the next 10 years… I’ll bet well still be stuck at 15 Mbps for the majority of the country in 10 years…. ISPs here will never spend the money to upgrade the infrastructure. ..

  • Karsus

    Who cares what we’d do with it? We want it!

    Preferably though, we need super fast, mobile internet, so we can be free of the common limitations we have (plus, its important so we can ultimately all work more flexibly)

  • udit

    Human genome project ? METAL GEAR !!!!!!

  • Bilal Mahmood

    lol i am in the UK and only get 1 megabytes per second google fiber is a far dream

  • paul cook

    ha i can beat that with my sprint, my 0.11 mbps down and 0.35 mbps upload

  • Wanted(2008)

    After being just recently in Romania I see everything in Greece in slow motion. I believe that with 60 lei = ~14 euro you could have this speed:
    1000mb dl
    100mb up in romania and 30mb up in general on the internet.

  • Chattanooga Guy

    Meanwhile, here in Chattanooga, TN, I get 1Gbps/1Gbps for $70/mo. Pretty sweet!

  • VAVA Mk2

    Porn. All of it. Ever.

  • russbird

    “Someone has to make sure that 100Gbps is safe for home use, who knows what could go wrong with those sorts of speeds.”… What on earth does this mean? Are we expecting a car crash? The ” information superhighway” is not literal…

  • King Leonidas

    What else can you do with 100 Gbps??? Rule the World!!!