Researchers at the University of Oxford have reached a new milestone in networking by using light fidelity (Li-Fi) to achieve bi-directional speeds of 224 gigabits per second (Gbps). To put this in perspective, 100Gbps fibre optic core networks have only become a reality in recent years and have yet to become ubiquitous.
Li-Fi is still a long way from being used commercially, but by way of illustration, using a 224Gbps speed would technically allow for 18 movies of 1.5GB each to be downloaded in a single second.
The technology is being developed as a potential alternative to Wi-Fi, and because it uses visible light spectrum to transmit data, when coupled with a high-speed fibre internet connection, researchers believe this can offer speeds far greater than those attained by existing contemporary Wi-Fi technology (600Mbps).
The research, published in the journal Photonics Technology Letter, details how the specialised broadcast LEDs and receivers operate with different fields of view and bands that affect the data transmission speeds.
"The link operates over ~3 m range at 224 Gb/s (6 x 37.4 Gb/s) and 112 Gb/s (3 x 37.4 Gb/s) with a wide field of view (FOV) of 60° and 36°, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a wireless link of this type with a FOV that offers practical room-scale coverage," the report states.
A 'brighter future'
The emerging technology has the potential to provide low-cost wireless internet more securely in localised areas, given that light is unable to pass through walls.
The fastest speed previously achieved using Li-Fi was in October 2014, when a team of researchers from the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Strathclyde working on the Ultra-Parallel Visible Light Communications Project reached transmission speeds of 10.5Gbps via Li-Fi.
Harold Haas, one of the pioneers of Li-Fi technology, has previously claimed that in the future every LED lightbulb could potentially be used as an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi.
"We have the infrastructure there," Haas said in a TED Talk demonstrating Li-Fi. "We can use them for communications.
"All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission.
"In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fi's deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even a brighter future."