lifipureLiFi

A new wireless internet technology called LiFi is so fast it'll let you download "23 DVDs in one second," according to Suat Topsu, founder of French LiFi startup Oledcomm (via AFP).

LiFi technology, short for Light Fidelity, uses light from LED bulbs to transmit internet data instead of the radio waves our WiFi routers currently broadcast.

The LED light bulbs flicker extremely quickly to emit a frequency of light that can transmit data at incredible speeds —up to 200 Gigabits per second, which is insanely fast. 

"Li-Fi allows speeds that are 100 times faster than WiFi," Topsu told the AFP.

Oledcomm demonstrated its LiFi technology at MWC by streaming a video on a smartphone placed under a lamp fitted with an LED light bulb. The smartphone was reportedly not connected to WiFi routers or anything else that could provide an internet connection. It was wirelessly connected to a light bulb, which is a pretty weird thing to type or say out loud.

Other benefits

Apart from incredible internet speeds, LiFi has significant benefits.

LiFi is more secure than WiFi because light can't go through walls like WiFi radio signals can. That means only the people in the same room as the LiFi bulb can connect to your internet connection.

Some are also seeing LiFi as a solution in places where WiFi signals create interference with equipment. It would be great in hospitals, for example, as LiFi wouldn't interfere with wireless medical equipment like WiFi signals can.

Obstacles

Like every good thing, there's a catch.

For one, devices need a direct, uninterrupted field of view with the LiFi bulb. You can break the signal by merely placing a hand between your device and the LiFi bulb. Another LiFi startup called Velmenni demonstrated this:

The video stops playing when the demonstrator raises his hand between the LiFi bulb and the smartphone.

That leaves a lot of room for internet service interruptions. If the bulb is directly above you, you'd need to make sure your head isn't in the way of the LiFi signal. This guy's got it!

Mmm, LiFi.

Also, it's not entirely clear whether or not LiFi would work with the lights off.  But if LiFi can deliver on those internet speeds, I'll gladly adapt my internet-using behavior.

When will we see the light?

Analyst Frederic Sarrat of PwC said "[LiFi] is still a laboratory technology," according to AFP. 

Testing began in 2015 in French museums and shopping malls, and Belgium, India, and Estonia are among the first few countries testing LiFi, as well. 

LiFi technology also needs special components to register the LiFi signal, much like the WiFi radio in our wireless devices. At the moment, few devices have these components built in. 

Oledcomm actually sells LiFi kits that comes with lamps, bulbs, an Android tablet that supports LiFi, and a LiFi adapter for smartphones. Price? The cheapest kit is 399 Euros, which is the equivalent of $440.

So, it might be a few years till we see LiFi widely adopted. For now, though, you should check out Eero, which solves the most common problems we have with WiFi routers.