The data pipe is now getting narrower, but light can help expand our wireless capabilities

The combination of a surge in home working and school closures over the past couple of weeks has placed unprecedented demand on both mobile and broadband networks. However, it is yet to be seen whether the technology and networks that are currently connecting us will scale to meet the increase in demand, which begs the question: are there any other tools available to us that can increase our wireless capacities? According to LiFi technology expert, pureLiFi, the future of widening the data pipe and expanding our wireless capabilities lies in leveraging the light spectrum.

Discussing this further, Alistair Banham, CEO at pureLiFi, says:

“So far, despite the increase in demand and concerns around a drop in speed and service quality, people appear to be remaining connected, with only the odd dropped video conference call. This hasn’t been by chance. There are plenty of examples where industry and government are being proactive to keep us entertained and in attendance at our daily office catch-ups.

“Many of these measures are only short-term solutions, as we hope self-isolation and social distancing will be as well. However, a remote working revolution is predicted to be on the horizon, which means many of these new, creative and remote ways of working, sharing and connecting are expected to outlast this current challenging environment. Therefore, looking to the future, is it possible that light can help us widen the data pipe and get more data to your home and your device?”

Banham continues, “There are a few specific ways light communications can help get more data to your home and your device. For example, the “last mile” of connection is the most challenging for broadband providers and is often seen as the bottleneck in providing faster internet speeds for the home and office. As a result, taking advantage of other technologies such as 5G have been seen as the next solution to help improve reliable “last mile” communications. 

“However, light can provide ultra-high-speed dedicated links with 1000 times the bandwidth of traditional RF such as 4G and 5G. Light can also do this without interfering with other RF networks and without using up precious spectrum resources. This all makes light an ideal technology for complimenting existing technologies and widening the data pipe.”

Light communications technologies such as LiFi technology have often been positioned as an ‘alternative’ to the likes of 4G and 5G. However, evidence suggests that these technologies can also work to enhance and augment, not replace, traditional RF technologies like cellular and Wi-Fi technologies, and subsequently be able to supercharge the next generation of wireless connectivity.

Banham, adds, “Have you ever found yourself having problems with your WiFi network when one person is streaming home entertainment in the living room and somebody else is hosting a video conference in the office? You are not alone and while many people are quickly looking for ways to improve their Wi-Fi, this is an area where LiFi can help in the future.” 

In 2018 pureLiFi demonstrated in a Scottish school how LiFi can make Wi-Fi networks more reliable—not just in schools but in homes and offices, too. pureLiFi deployed a LiFi network in a classroom that regularly streamed high bandwidth educational videos. By offloading bandwidth-heavy content to the LiFi network, the neighbouring classrooms benefitted from more reliable WiFi connections and therefore better user experiences. Bringing LiFi into homes will have the same benefits in the future.

Banham, concludes, “While LiFi isn’t in every device and every light today, it is clear to see how, if there were to be a working from home revolution, Light communications technologies such as LiFi could central to expanding our wireless capabilities and widen the data pipe. With LiFi, we will all be ready for the fast-changing connectivity landscape.”

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