What happens when Wi-Fi gets a 100 times faster?

With speeds of 1GBps, the technology could enable a high-definition film to be downloaded in seconds Hence, the introduction of Li-Fi.

Velmenni Bulb
The Vemenni bulb, using Li-Fi to transfer high speed data using light.

What is Li-Fi? Li-Fi is a super-fast alternative to Wi-Fi, has been proven capable of sending data at up to 1GBps in real-world tests. At that speed, 100-times faster than current Wi-Fi technologies, a high-definition film could be downloaded in a matter of seconds.

Li-Fi uses light to beam information through the air. Light is already used to transmit data across fiber optic networks at high speed. These work by guiding the light along optical fibers using total internal reflection, so that no information is lost along the way.

Light bulbs could offer a new way of delivering data
Light bulbs could offer a new way of delivering data

Transmitting information by beaming light through the air is more difficult, because there is no light tunnel to guide the signal to where it needs to go. Li-Fi is a wireless technology similar to Wi-Fi that allows data to be sent at high speeds using visible light communication (VLC). Invented by Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Li-Fi has several advantages over Wi-Fi.

One of the big advantages of li-fi is the fact that, unlike wi-fi, it does not interfere with other radio signals, so could be utilised on aircraft and in other places where interference is an issue.

While the spectrum for radio waves is in short supply, the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger, meaning it is unlikely to run out any time soon. But the technology also has its drawbacks, most notably the fact that it cannot be deployed outdoors in direct sunlight, because that would interfere with its signal. Neither can the technology travel through walls so initial use is likely to be limited to places where it can be used to supplement wi-fi networks, such as in congested urban areas or places where wi-fi is not safe, such as hospitals.

Would Li-Fi change the face of the world?


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