Despite all the advances in commercial wireless networking, even the most industrial-strength radio frequency links can’t come close to the speed and reliability of wire and fiber. While industry groups such as the WiGig Alliance strive toward providing two gigabit-per-second wireless connections at short range, longer-range wireless links such as the directional microwave systems used on some cell towers top out at around 250 megabits per second—a small fraction of what can be pushed over a fiber backbone.

Of course, you can’t run a fiber backbone through the air or summon one up at will on the battlefield. That’s why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a program to create technology that can act as a backbone for an airborne network with the same sort of bandwidth as fiber optic backbones—100 gigabits per second. If successful, the program could mean not just faster data connections on the battlefield, but better broadband for people in remote areas and cheaper expansion of cellular networks.

The effort, called the 100 Gigabit-per-second RF Backbone (or 100G in DARPA shorthand), seeks to do more than just overcome the physics that limit current radio-based data connections using the Defense Department’s Common Data Link (CDL) standard protocol. The initiative is searching for a solution that will be able to be deployed both to the battlefield and aboard aircraft—and work at distances of over 200 kilometers.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab