Two breakthrough optical networking technologies that use laser beams to transmit digital information could dramatically boost the capacity of school networks as early as next year.

Lucent Technologies' new WaveStar OpticAir system will use state-of-the-art lasers, amplifiers, and receivers that can be placed on school rooftops or in windows to transmit voice, video, and data from point to point through the air.

According to Lucent, the system eventually will be able to transmit up to 10 gigabits (billion bits) of information per second wirelessly between points. That's the equivalent of 15 CD-ROMs each second, or 65 times more information than with...

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