O2 UK announced a network trial where it will use LED light bulbs to provide high-speed wireless connectivity in partnership with pureLiFi, a move the operator said is part of its strategy to pave the way for 5G in the country.
While touting the potential for its 5G plans, the operator is starting small in testing pureLiFi’s technology, installing the company’s Li-Fi-XC system (comprised of nine LED light bulbs) in a room in its Slough office. The system enables data to be transmitted from the bulb and back at high speeds by adjusting the bulb’s brightness.
In a statement, O2 explained the result is a high-speed, bi-directional and fully networked wireless communication of data. However, the signals cannot go through walls or curtains, so a direct line of sight is needed.
O2 believes the system has the potential to serve as a serious contender to Wi-Fi as its reliance on the visible light spectrum can enable safer, more reliable and more secure wireless data communication. The approach also holds the potential to reduce infrastructure complexity and energy consumption.
Derek McManus, O2’s COO, said: “Our Li-Fi trial shows how you can deliver high-speed connectivity to customers in new ways and is another example of how we’re future-proofing our network as we pave the way for 5G in the UK.”
Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi, explained that as the demand for spectrum is under increasing pressure, Li-Fi can unlock “unprecedented and much-needed data and bandwidth”.
He told Financial Times the technology can help develop 5G as light offers 1,000-times the capacity of radio-based connectivity.
In October 2017, Banham had said the company’s vision was to see “every LED connect us to the internet”.
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