Last Li-Fi champion: Cisco | LED magazine


Networking stalwart Cisco, a longtime supplier of equipment for wired and radio frequency (RF) wireless connectivity like Wi-Fi, is now starting to talk about the possibilities of Li-Fi, the technology based on light stuck on the track intended to provide Wi-Fi type service.

“Today, virtually all unwired Internet connections — including cellular networks — rely on the same radio frequencies we’ve used since the 1890s,” Cisco Principal Engineer John Parello recently wrote on the Cisco Tech Blog. , a section of the Cisco website where the company promotes innovative ideas. “And, as you’d expect, these frequencies are routinely in demand for high-bandwidth, high-security, high-reliability wireless communications.

“Fortunately, with an emerging technology called Li-Fi, we can gain relief from congested spectra. By using light instead of radio waves to deliver secure, high-performance wireless connections, Li-Fi has the potential to revolutionize the Internet access as we know it.

Parello is part of Cisco Innovation Labs, an incubation group that describes itself as helping “new ideas come to life.” Li-Fi is not new in itself. Its commercial roots go back at least to 2012, with the creation of Edinburgh, Scotland’s pureLiFi, then called pureVLC. The technology modulates light waves emitted by artificial light sources such as LEDs or lasers, and uses them to transmit data to laptops, phones and tablets.

Li-Fi providers such as pureLiFi and Signify have slowly added customers. For example, the two have sold Li-Fi to the US military, taking advantage of the security advantages that Li-Fi offers over Wi-Fi. But they have yet to turn Li-Fi into a mainstream game.

Cisco is now championing the technology, with the goal of helping it grow out of its protracted rookie status and kickstarting it.

One hurdle has been that device makers haven’t yet integrated Li-Fi chips into their products, like they do with Wi-Fi.

Along the same lines, the Li-Fi industry still seems divided on standards. Some outfits such as pureLiFi adopt “802” protocols enshrined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in Piscataway, NJ, while others, such as Signify, prefer International Telecommunication Union (ITU) protocols ) based in Geneva.

In his blog post, Cisco’s Parello advocates the IEEE approach – which is no surprise given all the IEEE 802 technology prevalent in Cisco’s wired and wireless universe.

“Now is the time to take full advantage of the light spectrum as the best foundation for Wi-Fi connections,” Parello writes. “Not only is the necessary hardware (LEDs) cheap and easy to manufacture and install, but as we have demonstrated at Cisco, light-based and radio-based communications can coexist using light-based roaming. standards like 802.11r. This means that the transition to Li-Fi can be done gradually and painlessly.

Parello has been added to the list of speakers at the Li-Fi Conferencea day-long rally tomorrow in the backyard of Signify in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, where presenters from pureLiFi, Signify and other companies will advocate unity while expressing their preference for the IEEE approach or ITU.

In a chicken-or-egg conundrum, until the industry resolves some of its differences, Li-Fi chipset prices will remain high relative to Wi-Fi chipsets, continuing to discourage gadget makers from adopting Li. -Fi.

But Li-Fi could get a boost as companies such as Kyocera SLD Laser and other laser chip developers integrate their components into the enterprise, offering much faster networking speeds than those supported by the LED chips that have been the mainstay of Li-Fi until now. .

BRAND HALPER is editor of LEDs Magazine and a journalist specializing in energy, technology and business ([email protected]).

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