While Wi-Fi 7 is already in the works and could arrive as early as next year, regulating body Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) had just approved the light communications standard, 802.11bb, in anticipation of the “upcoming” Li-Fi technology, per The Verge.
The expectation comes from the emerging technology’s promise of faster light-based wireless optical connectivity—said to be up to 100 times faster than existing Wi-Fi or up to 9.6 Gigabits per second—using invisible infrared technology.
Although common logic would suggest that Li-Fi could be replacing Wi-Fi once it gets full implementation, it is worth noting that IEEE 802.11bb identifies the former as in a different category than the latter, thereby offsetting the notion.
In reality, however, Li-Fi is not anything new in the market. For years, many companies have been trying to sell it to the masses and there is even a competing standard, International Telecommunication Union’s G.9991, to it, which is apparent with Signify’s Philip Hue data-beaming bulbs.
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Yet, while companies have been trying to capitalize on the promising capabilities of light-based internet connectivity, it is not without its drawbacks. With light being the access point and interface, the quality and reliability of the network are dependent on lighting conditions and are volatile, to say the least.
Why there is a talk now on Li-Fi is more of a marketing decision than anything else, and would be credited to the same man that coined the term “Li-Fi” himself, Dr. Harald Haas. More specifically, to promote their company’s latest product—the PureLiFi Light Antenna One—and to recognize a task group member’s contribution, a certain Mr. Fraunhofer.
Released in February 2023, the Light Antenna One is a module so tiny it could fit in any smartphone product, which would deliver such devices a connectivity speed of more or less 1 Gbps, based on the use-case—though with the caveat that it’s only rated to interact with devices in under 10 feet away and only has 24-degree field of view angle for return transmission.