Light Fidelity or Li-Fi is a type of wireless communication technology that uses infrared light, the visible light spectrum, or ultraviolet radiation to transmit data. Existing operational concepts and experimental applications of this technology primarily involve the use of light-emitting diode or LED lamps. Nonetheless, because of the purported advantages of this technology, proponents have positioned it as an alternative to existing Wi-Fi and WLAN technologies.
Pros: Benefits and Advantages of Li-Fi
1. Faster Data Transmission than Wi-Fi
A primary selling point of Li-Fi technology is that it has a faster data transmission rate than Wi-Fi. The visible light spectrum has a bandwidth that is 10000 times larger than the entire radio frequency and microwave spectrum. Researchers at the University of Oxford have claimed that they successfully tested an experimental Li-Fi application with a bi-directional speed of 224 gigabits per second. Take note that most Wi-Fi networks transmit data at around 20 megabits per second and transfer rates are dependent on distance and interferences. This advantage is the reason why proponents have banked on Li-Fi as a solution for resolving that issues involving the bandwidth limitations of Wi-Fi and the growing amount of data produced and consumed by users.
2. Easy and Inexpensive to Deploy
Remember that the current operational concepts and experimental applications of Li-Fi technology center on the use of LED lamps. This means that a Li-Fi network can be integrated easily with existing LED lighting systems. Simply put, wherever there is a light source, there can be access to the Internet. It is also worth mentioning that LED lamps are very inexpensive to produce and their market price is relatively affordable. Analysts predict that Li-Fi deployment would be ten times cheaper than Wi-Fi. They are also more energy efficient than incandescent lamps and fluorescent lamps. Although a Li-Fi-enabled LED lamp must remain turned on to keep transmitting data, it can be dimmed to below human visibility and save energy cost while still emitting enough light to work as a network router.
3. Security Due to the Limitations of Light
Another notable benefit or advantage of Li-Fi is that it is more secure than Wi-Fi. Wireless communication technologies based on radio frequency and microwaves are more vulnerable to eavesdropping, signal hijacking or unauthorized interception, brute force attacks, and unsolicited network connections. Remember that light waves cannot penetrate through walls and doors. They also have a shorter range. The same is true for infrared light and ultraviolet radiation. The signals emitted by a Li-Fi product and the data it transmits remain confined within a closed area such as a room or hall. Access to the network is limited. This means that Li-Fi technology offers an added layer of security than Wi-Fi.
4. Immune From Electromagnetic Interferences
In addition, Li-Fi also has an advantage of being immune from electromagnetic interferences that affect radio-based wireless communication technologies. The technology is also useful in areas that are electromagnetic sensitive such as aircraft cabins, hospitals, and nuclear power plants, among others because it does not cause electromagnetic interferences. It is important to note that some medical instruments used in hospitals, as well as the radar and communication systems in an aircraft are sensitive to radio frequency.
5. Expansive Future Applications
The promotion of further connectivity is another advantage of Li-Fi technology. The fact that it offers faster data transfer rates means that it can advance the popular deployment of the Internet of Things or IoT which require massive data and effective and efficient connectivity. Some of the specific foreseeable applications of Li-Fi include home and building automation. Experts have also conceptualized traffic applications such as the use of street and traffic lights to provide information about current road situations, and the headlights and back lights of vehicles to communicate and automate safety measures.
Cons: Limitations and Disadvantages of Li-Fi
1. Limited Range and Connectivity
The limitations of the visible light provide Li-Fi with a security advantage over Wi-Fi. However, these limitations also create disadvantages. Physical barriers such as walls and doors limit the operational scope of a Li-Fi-enabled LED lamp. Remember that the data transmitted by a Li-Fi product remains confined within a close spaced because light cannot penetrate opaque objects and has a shorter range. In establishments such as house or building, enabled LED lamps must be strategically placed in rooms, halls, and other sections to expand the scope of the Li-Fi network. A single Wi-Fi router has wider and longer range than a Li-Fi router. These limitations of Li-Fi also make it not ideal for use in public Wi-Fi networks.
2. Unavailability of Compatible Technologies
It will take years for Li-Fi to become more practical than Wi-Fi. Current devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablet computers still use hardware for Wi-Fi networking. These devices would not readily work with a Li-Fi network because they do not have the necessary hardware specifications. Li-Fi is not readily backward compatible. It is also worth mentioning that the faster data transfer rate of this technology remains negligible or insignificant until Internet speed from service providers improves. In areas or countries that are notorious for having slower Internet speeds than their counterparts, deploying a Li-Fi network would be meaningless. Hence, it will take coordination from various industries and sectors to promote mass adoption of this technology.
3. Light Interference and Light Pollution
Other disadvantages of Li-Fi are susceptibility to light interference and the promotion of light pollution. Take note that although this technology is immune to electromagnetic interferences, other sources of light may interfere with the signal. Sunlight can interfere with light signals produced by a Li-Fi-enabled LED lamp. The corresponding receiver may have a hard time processing these signals. Internet interruption is possible. Furthermore, because enabled LED lamps must remain on, they can contribute further to light pollution, especially if set at higher brightness to compensate for possible interference with other light sources.
4. Possible Cost Implications
Deploying Li-Fi is theoretically inexpensive because of the small cost associated with the production of LED lamps. However, installation cost can be more expensive than Wi-Fi deployment because of the technology is relatively new and the demand remains low and specialized technicians are still few. The fact that a single home needs several Li-Fi routers to expand the scope of the network and the availability of Internet connectivity could also mean additional purchase and installation costs. Take note that a single Wi-Fi router is enough for an average-sized house.