Estimated to be 100 times faster than Wi-Fi and more secure, a light-based technology known as Light Fidelity will, in due time, transform how we connect to the Internet
Growing tired of the herky-jerky nature of Wi-Fi? An emerging technology that was seemingly light-years away from reality not long ago called Light Fidelity, or Li-Fi, is now on the cusp of arrival, heralding a new and improved age in wireless communication technology.
Similar to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is a bidirectional, high-speed networked wireless communication technology but it uses visible light waves instead of radio frequency waves to transmit data. Unlike Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is estimated to be about 100 times faster at transmitting data using light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs that are integrated with a Li-Fi chip.
Li-Fi is a subset of optical wireless communications operating in what’s known as the visible light communication (VLC) spectrum. The promise this breakthrough technology offers versus Wi-Fi in terms of vastly improved data transmission with the blistering high speeds it provides is instantly noteworthy ‘ estimated to be capable of transmitting data at 1-gigabit per second or more via a typical white-light LED. And as the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum Wi-Fi runs on, Li-Fi has virtually no restrictive limitations on it with respect to capacity. Moreover, it’s less of a security risk than Wi-Fi in that a beam of light can’t be hacked and it is expected to be much cheaper to use than Wi-Fi.
However, there are downsides to Li-Fi. For instance, Li-Fi is for short range applications: it only works when a device is in the direct line of sight of the light source transmitting the data. As it cannot penetrate walls, it may not be the panacea everyone is hoping will consign Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi routers and access points to the dustbin of technological history. Also, Li-Fi cannot be used outdoors during daylight. Plus, although Li-Fi is touted to be much cheaper to run and maintain than Wi-Fi, different systems produced by competing providers can vary in cost, high installation charges could be a factor, and it could get pricey having lights on all of the time.
WILL LI-FI REPLACE WI-FI?
Whenever a groundbreaking, new technology comes to the fore excitement (and media hype) ensues. It’s understandable. When the concept of Wi-Fi first popped up on the general public’s radar (sometime in the late 1990s) the ability to be untethered from a wired connection and free to roam while still having access to the Internet generated much enthusiasm for the advancement. Though Wi-Fi is not the end-all, be-all of wireless connectivity, it’s unlikely Li-Fi will render Wi-Fi obsolete.
An alternative to Wi-Fi as we know it today is required, though. We’re connecting more and more physical objects wirelessly to the Internet annually, in turn creating a looming spectrum crisis in wireless communications. The deluge of what’s known as the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue unabated ‘ connecting everything to the ‘Net from computers to vehicles to household appliances to machinery in manufacturing plants. According to technology research firm predictions, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices connected online by 2020. It’s estimated the total number of IoT devices accessing the Internet in 2015 is approximately 4.9 billion.
It’s important to remember Li-Fi is still in the development stage. Research into VLC has been ongoing since 2003 but it is far from complete. In the short-term, Wi-Fi will remain the dominant technology, but Li-Fi holds great promise. In due time, there will be several reasons to consider a Li-Fi installation at your business including:
It’s more secure than Wi-Fi and it doesn’t require wireless encryption. A typical drywall provides all the security you need
IoT-enabled objects use inexpensive optical components such as off-the-shelf LEDs, photodetectors, and transceivers
Li-Fi is ideal for high density coverage in a confined region and provides lightning-fast download and data transmission speeds
Anywhere you see a light bulb therein lies a potential source for high-speed data transmission
A BRIGHTER INTERNET CONNECTIVITY FUTURE
Despite the challenges that exist today for Li-Fi’s continuing development and its subsequent widespread adoption ‘ a lack of an updated standard governing VLC established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is perhaps the biggest hurdle ‘ the future of Li-Fi appears bright indeed.
Regardless of what unfolds with Li-Fi or Wi-Fi there’s one critical point to bear in mind few people are talking about: wireless technologies still need to be fed by a category 6 network cable via a quality structured cable installation done by experienced technicians.
While the notion of accessing the Internet at the speed of light and the potential for vastly improved and more efficient communication systems are tantalizing, Wi-Fi is here to stay for a few years yet. Thus, if your Wi-Fi coverage isn’t where you need it to be, it’s possible the design of your network is inadequate for the demands placed on it.
Be sure to choose a team of experienced structured cabling technicians to conduct any assessment or wireless installation projects you undertake. Your wireless services should never be compromised by an inferior installation or equipment.
What makes the CORE Cabling team different is we understand every structured cabling system is unique, just as your business is unique. Based on industry best practices and certified technical standards, we guarantee our work and we pride ourselves on exceeding our customers’ expectations. Have questions about your Wi-Fi network or wireless services in general? Contact us, or request a quote!