Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

Li-Fi: A Revolutionary Development in the Future of Enterprise Connectivity

by Rowan Litter | 7/21/2023

As enterprises look to enhance operational efficiencies and tap into emerging technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence, the role of connectivity becomes increasingly vital. The development of private wireless networks and advancements of Wi-Fi technology is a clear sign of this need. Another innovation in physical network infrastructure resulting from the demand is Light Fidelity, or “Li-Fi”. While Wi-Fi transmits information through radio waves, Li-Fi uses LEDs to transmit data. These LEDs can be in the form of light bulbs, meaning that one could turn on internet connections by flipping a switch. Furthermore, Li-Fi has the capability to transmit data at speeds over 100 Gbps, which is significantly more than the world’s fastest Wi-Fi speeds, as well as operate over higher bandwidth.

Li-Fi has been around for a long time and concept devices have been showcased at telecom events around the world, but there has been no real development or adoption of the technology. However, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), recently announced the ‘IEEE 802.11bb’ Light Communication Global standard, meaning that manufacturers are now able to develop devices, such as smartphones, tablets, IoT devices, etc., with the support of Li-Fi. Although Li-Fi will be able to transmit data at speeds over 100 Gbps (with a max speed of up to 224 Gbps), there is insufficient hardware that can support delivery at this speed today. In the new 802.11bb specification, the IEEE has limited the speed of Li-Fi to 9.6 Gbps, which is still impressively fast.

As with the introduction of private wireless technology, the introduction of Li-Fi has many wondering if traditional Wi-Fi networks, which are so common across homes and business, are at jeopardy of being replaced. The IEEE also manages standard specification for Wi-Fi, so developers are working today to optimize a mixed bag of both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi, to complement each other for different use cases. For example, when the radio frequencies that Wi-Fi relies on are inhibited, or even banned (for security reasons), Li-Fi can be used as an alternative connection. Some of the top environments for the adoption of Li-Fi include education classrooms, hospitals and medical institutions, and industrial/manufacturing shopfloors. Use cases include faster data-sharing, offloading bandwidth-heavy processes from Wi-Fi connections, and enabling the use of AR/VR applications which require very low latencies.

Of course, all new, revolutionary technologies come at a price, and the price of the LiFiMAX Flex kit is set at $2190, guaranteeing 150 Mbps download and 140 Mbps upload speeds. In addition, the kit is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows 7, 8, 10, Mac OS, UNIX, Linux, and Android. One notable downside of Li-Fi is that light cannot penetrate walls, and therefore, a Li-Fi equipped LED bulb ‘access point’ will have to be in the room; however, the technology does not require line-of-sight, as signals can be picked up from light bouncing off surfaces (though possibly degraded). With Wi-Fi 7 expected to release later this year, as well as the continued development and rollout of private wireless networks, Li-Fi offers another option for handling the rapid digitalization occurring in the enterprise today. More development is needed before we will see home lamps and office lights providing us with fast connectivity, but the introduction of an IEEE standard paves the way for manufacturers and developers to test the true capabilities of this sci-fi-like technology.