Ron Hui doesn't know if his patented invention for speeding the Internet will ever be needed.
But if technology continues to demand greater access and speed, Hui has developed a method to do it.
"To be honest, I cannot predict the future," he said.
Hui is a Kansas University assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science. He recently learned he received a U.S. patent for research he did more than five years ago while at Nortel Networks, a Canadian company that does networking and telecommunications services.
Hui's research involved fiber-optic communication and could be used for wireless computer networks. The chips developed by Hui quickly encode information, enabling it to be sent through fiber-optic cables with greater speed.
Hui said there was no need for the additional Web capacity now. Home computer users haven't put much of a strain on the current infrastructure.
"I don't think that's a big driver," he said. "It's got to be something different."
For instance, he said, if high-definition television became popular, it would require additional bandwidth for cable systems.
Since 1983, the transmission capacity of optical fiber systems has doubled every 2.4 years, according to industry data.
Hui worked on the chips for two years and applied for the patent in 1999. He said he hadn't worked on the chips since then, but Nortel Networks will have access to the product if it becomes necessary in the future.
"Right now, we did not follow up on this," he said.