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Li-Fi internet is coming: Get ready for 1GB/sec transfers speeds, 100 times faster than normal Wi-Fi

Thursday, 26 November 2015
Back in February this year, we wrote about Li-Fi, a new technology that used light to potentially enable transfer speeds of up to 224GB/sec. Now scientists have tested it outside of the laboratory – and yes, it’s still ridiculously fast.

In “real-world” tests by the Estonian startup Vélmenni, transfer speeds were as high as 1GB per second – that’s up to 100 times faster than conventional Wi-Fi. While that figure is nowhere near the speeds seen in laboratory conditions, it’s still fast enough to download 4K video in seconds.
“We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology,” Vélmenni CEO Deepak Solank told IBTimes UK.
“Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. 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.”

How does it work?
Li-Fi transmits information in a binary fashion using light. But unlike Wi-Fi – which uses radio waves – Li-Fi creates a network using the visible light spectrum. Data is communicated through bulbs with rapid, imperceptible blinking – and the result is an even faster method of transfer.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve used light to transfer data. In fibre-optic cables, data is coded into light, and then transported along the cable using a series of internal reflections. The result? Fibre-optic cables can be faster than their conventional, copper counterparts – and because there is no loss to heat or resistance, it’s more efficient and stable too.
The technology was first invented by Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh back in 2011, but it’s now being tested outside the lab.

Li-Fi in the home and office
Li-Fi does boast impressive speed, but it also comes with downsides. Unlike radio waves, light can’t go through walls – so connection ranges should be far smaller. Although that’s fine for an office context, it’s not ideal for home use.
Instead it looks like the technology will be popular in larger, more commercial settings. For example, airlines are reported to be considering the technology, both in planes and departure lounges.