End of Wi-Fi in the UAE? Du trials super speedy Li-Fi

Move over Wi-Fi. Du has announced trials of a new technology that could offer download speeds of around 1 gigabyte per second, all by way of a simple LED light bulb.

The telecoms operator announced that it had conducted a successful trial of Light Fidelity, also know as Li-Fi, in conjunction with local start up Zero1, which promises to allow users to download HD movies in seconds.

Li-Fi, first unveiled by Harold Haas of the University of Edinburgh in 2011, uses visible light communication (VLC) to transmit data at extremely high speeds, by turning LED bulbs on and off at very high speeds imperceptible to the human eye.


Its reliance on light waves and existing LED bulbs makes the technology significantly cheaper to operate than traditional Wi-Fi networks, offering significantly higher speeds.

Tests conducted by researchers in Estonia in November achieved transmission speeds of 1GB per second over Li-Fi in real world conditions, with speeds of up to 224GB per second in laboratory conditions.

“We are currently working with major businesses to create tailor-made Li-Fi solutions and to test and validate the applications so that we can ensure we offer the latest in innovation to our valued customers,” said Saleem Al Balooshi, executive vice president at du.

The operator did not comment as to when the technology would be commercially launched in the UAE.

PureLifi, a company started by Mr Haas, announced a partnership with the French lighting company Lucibel in December, with a view to launching commercial products by the third quarter of this year.

Li-Fi is currently not without drawbacks; due to its reliance on light waves, the technology will not work outside during daylight, and cannot travel through walls, giving it a narrower range than Wi-Fi.

The technology’s short range, however, offers advantages for secure communications, accord­ing to du, making it suitable for environments including hospitals, company headquarters, transport, and security agencies.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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