O2 trials wireless networks created from LED lighting

LED lighting is being used to send data across networks while remaining almost invisible to the human eye.

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O2 has unveiled a trial in which light will become the backbone of wireless connectivity and networks in preparation for the emergence of 5G.

On Wednesday, the telecommunications provider revealed the project at the O2 headquarters in Slough, UK.

The company's trial, made possible through a partnership with pureLiFI, will be "used to provide high-speed wireless connectivity" via LED light bulbs.

The LED light bulbs are connected to pureLiFi's LiFi-XC system and are "LiFi-enabled," which is described as a category of Optical Wireless Communications (OWC) including infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light.

The energy created by light for illumination can "also be used for communication," according to pureLiFI, by connecting multiple light bulbs to form a wireless network. O2 says that LED lighting systems will be able to rapidly transfer large amounts of data.

According to the company, the experience is similar to standard Wi-Fi, but rather than using the standard radio spectrum, the light spectrum is engaged.

When data is moved across a LiFi network, it appears as white light to the human eye. Data can be sent at high speeds by adjusting a bulb's brightness.

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In total, nine LiFI bulbs have been connected through a network to test out the technology in O2 headquarters.

"The LiFi system has the potential to serve as a serious contender to Wi-Fi, which uses radio frequencies," O2 says. "Its reliance on the visible light spectrum aims to enable safer, more reliable and more secure wireless data communication than Wi-Fi. It also has the potential to reduce infrastructure complexity and energy consumption."

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The company says that the LiFI trial has been launched in preparation for 5G networks and the need to "future-proof" its business.

Namely, as Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the rapid adoption of mobile technologies demand more spectrum, alternatives need to be found to prevent network overloads and bottlenecks.

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"LiFi is capable of unlocking unprecedented and much-needed data and bandwidth, and we are delighted that O2 has chosen to partner with pureLiFi to explore this tremendous potential," says Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi. "O2 is at the forefront of championing technologies to provide real solutions for 5G and beyond, and we look forward to working with them towards our common goal."

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