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Light Communications as a part of 5G and beyond
Chasing 10x the speed of current day data communication through illumination.

Light Communications as a part of 5G and beyond

Light Communications as a part of 5G and beyond

The world is quickly reaching a threshold in data connectivity, and the demand for it is outgrowing the supply of wireless bandwidth. LiFi is a new technology that can leverage light to create billions of connections.

As more people, devices and services compete for limited radio spectrum — 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, digital radio, and TV, the world of data communication is running out of spectrum through which it communicates.

According to a study conducted by Nokia Bell Labs, The World’s demand for wireless data will be outrun by 30% by 2020.

A study by Ericsson shows that mobile data is growing at 60% per year to 71 exabytes per month — or 71 billion bytes — by 2021. Around 90% of mobile data will be consumed indoors by 2022, and connected devices in our homes are foreseen to increase from 10 devices today to 50 in just 5 years. This growth will cause congestion in our radio spectrum and will create the risk of not meeting our demands drastically.

Privacy and security have also become a growing concern amongst consumers and enterprise customers alike. Those who operate these wireless networks end up facing a constant challenge of ensuring wide coverage and its protection.

LiFi, considered as a potential medium for 5G wireless communications, is gaining popularity in multiple industries. LiFi has strengths in energy efficiency and ultra-wide bandwidth. At the same time, being a fairly new technology, it’s still steadily growing in transmission range and overcoming obstacles in transmission paths. This article aims to provide a conclusive investigation of the latest progress in research and development on LiFi, which can be highly advantageous when made a part of 5G wireless communication systems. The work done so far around LiFi signifies the strengths and weaknesses of LiFi when compared to RF-based communications, especially in spectrum, spatial reuse, security and energy efficiency.

5G networks can offer an extremely high capacity for novel streaming applications. One of the most promising approaches is to embed large numbers of cooperating small cells into the macro-cell coverage area. Alternatively, LiFi can be adopted as an alternative physical layer, offering higher data rates. This is an emerging technology for future high capacity communication links (it has been accepted to 5GPP) in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum (~370–780 nm), utilizing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to simultaneously provide data transmission and room illumination. A major challenge in LiFi is the LED modulation bandwidths, which are limited to a few MHz. However, myriad gigabit speed transmission links have already been demonstrated. Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) optical wireless is resistant to obstacles and is capable of adapting its throughput according to the current channel state information. Concurrently, organic polymer LEDs (PLEDs) have become the focus of attention for solid-state lighting applications. This is due to advantages over regular white LEDs such as ultra-low costs, low heating temperature, mechanical flexibility and large photoactive areas.

Power efficiency has become one of the most important issues for 5G networks.

As the number of communication devices increases and the demand for connections grows. Around 2% of all carbon-dioxide emissions worldwide are produced by communication technologies; this will increase significantly as the mobile data traffic demand continuously surges. Moreover, ~57% of overall wireless network energy consumption is dissipated in radio access nodes. Thus, ‘green’ and energy-efficient systems can reduce CO2 emissions and decrease operating costs. Indoor communication systems can offer a solution to all the above issues via technologies like LiFi that can offer many advantages such as high capacity data transmission, excellent mobility and energy-efficient management.

Benefits of LiFi:

Latency: Light Communication offers sub millisecond latency for wireless communication which will enable automation and enhances the AR/VR experience.

Security: “Light cannot trespass through the physical environment, enabling secure data passage”. The inherent property of light is adding up an extra physical layer of security for data transmission.

Localization: LiFi & OCC can enable precise localization of users as each light source has its own unique address which means advanced geofencing can be added in a LiFi network. With OCC, applications like precise asset tracking and indoor navigation can be enabled.

Energy Efficiency: LiFi provides connectivity utilising the current lighting infra-structure with very low additional requirement of power for communication part. This means we are saving more energy on data transmission side.