Wi-Fi v Li-Fi: The Battle For Internet Connectivity

Lightbulb
A giant incandescent light bulb as part of the Incandescence installation by artist Severine Fontaine December 4, 2014. Researchers are developing ways of using visible light emitted from light bulbs to transmit super fast data. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

Estonian startup Velmenni is piloting a light-based data delivery system that could provide internet speeds 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.

The International Business Times reports that Li-Fi will make use of LED bulbs to transmit data of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). A detector will be needed to convert the visible light into an electrical current, allowing the potential for light bulbs to be used as wireless hotspots—ideal for space, like aeroplanes, where radio signal interference is an issue.

In theory, tests have shown that Li-Fi-enabled downloads could reach speeds of 224Gbps.

However, TechCrunch warns that Li-Fi may not be the go-to internet provider for most people due to its reliance on visible light. The technology website points out that visible light cannot travel through walls, giving Wi-Fi a significant advantage for most home and office consumers. Many people are also concerned with the potential cost of constantly running LED lights to provide a consistent stream of internet, making mass use unlikely.

The idea of Li-Fi was first introduced in 2011 by German Physicist Herald Haas during a TED talk. A year later, he founded a company named pureLiFi to focus on new advancements in the sector.

Deepak Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, told IBT that the technology could be available within four years. "Currently, we have designed a smart-lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light,” he said. “We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the Internet in their office space."