A possible challenger for Wi-Fi: LED-based Li-Fi

Energy-saving LED lights are becoming ubiquitous, found underneath shelves for task lighting, in car headlights and even in consumer servers to make light up the innards for the easily impressed.

Now researchers in the United Kingdom say they’ve found another use for LED lights:  As a transmission vehicle for wireless Internet instead of radio waves.

Dubbed Li-Fi, this report from the BBC tiny micro LED bulbs developed by a university in Glasgow allows streams of light to be beamed in parallel with theoretical speeds of over 10 Gbps.

One researcher argues that evenly-spaced LED transmitters could provide better Internet connectivity inside buildings than traditional Wi-Fi access points, whose signals weaken the further away one is from an AP. As a result multiple access points are needed in buildings.

However, the nascent 802.11ac standard may counter that.

The research uses tiny gallium nitride light emitting diodes, which, with orthogonal frequency division modulation (OFDM) based algorithms has seen bandwidth of over 600 MHz in the lab.

Possible uses include offloading signals from heavily burdened cellular networks, using street lighting to create Li-Fi hotspots and using Li-Fi in hospitals to avoid interference with medical equipment found in Wi-Fi equipment.

There is no detail on when the technology can be commercialized.

To read the full report click here

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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