Sick of waiting for your YouTube videos to buffer? Slow internet speeds may soon be a thing of the past. An exciting new wireless technology known as “Li-Fi” has just entered the testing phase, achieving speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second.
Just how fast is 224 Gbps? At this speed, you’d be able to transfer the entire contents of a standard SSD drive in just ten seconds. Downloading every single James Bond movie ever made would only take about four seconds. Of course, this is only the maximum theoretical speed that could be achieved. When the technology goes live in the real world, researchers are sacrificing bandwidth for distance.
The slower the data transmission rate, the longer the range of the signal. The technology was recently tested in Estonia. This was the very first time it was trialed in a lab setting. Researchers found that they were able to achieve speeds of 1 Gbps at a range of nearly 1km. This means that it transmits data roughly 100 times faster than our average Wi-Fi connection, over 10 times the distance.
This has major implications for internet users all over the world. Currently, one of the biggest expenses in bringing internet to the homes of people around the world is that the cables have to be run right into your residence. With technology like Li-Fi, internet service providers would be able to tap into existing powerlinesto drive the communication.
What exactly is Li-Fi? The “Li” actually stands for light. Just like incredibly advanced Morse code, special LED lighting is installed in your home. This lighting is flickered at a rate of 400 to 800 terahertz. This translates into roughly 400 trillion flickers per second, so fast that it is completely undetectable to the eye.
One of the biggest security problems with Wi-Fi is that the radio waves can be intercepted by unscrupulous individuals. In some circumstances, they are able to see everything you send and receive over the internet. Because light cannot penetrate walls, this makes it much easier to secure.
At the moment, the technology isn’t quite ready for mainstream. The components used to make Li-Fi possible are simply too expensive for most people to afford. But now that we know the technology works, researchers can focus on making the tech more affordable. Despite the massive cost, there are still a few businesses and governments experimenting with Li-Fi. Oledcomm, a French company, is doing a trial run by installing Li-Fi technology in local hospitals. If the project is a success, we may begin to see this tech popping up everywhere.
These new wireless technologies are being developed in response to increasing competition for the nation’s airwaves. Most wireless routers run on a frequency of either 5Ghz or 2.4Ghz. Unfortunately, these frequencies are reaching critical mass. In large urban centers, many users experience frequent dropouts and lower speeds as a result of too many devices on the same frequencies. Additionally, we are beginning to approach the theoretical maximum speed of Wi-Fi, so it won’t be long before technologies like Li-Fi will have to become the new standard.