If you still think of British technology in terms of Downton Abbey's first telephone, you may need to come up to 2014. According to the BBC, broadband speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved during a test on a 255-mile link between central London and Ipswich. The test -- conducted by Alcatel-Lucent and British Telecom -- was fast enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second, according to the BBC.

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The speeds were achieved on the same fiber-optic cables installed in the UK and elsewhere, but the signals were packed together more closely. The test was completed without interference or error, according to Kevin Drury of Alcatel-Lucent, comparing the test conditions to reducing the space between traffic lanes.

While consumers won't likely benefit from the increased speeds for several years, ISPs can potentially send much more information over existing fiber without significant infrastructure investments.