O2 uses Edinburgh’s pureLiFi light technology for high-speed wireless trial

ledsLight emitting diodes (LEDs) will be used to provide high-speed wireless connectivity in a new network trial unveiled by mobile operator O2 today.

The trial, conducted in partnership with Edinburgh’s pureLiFi, uses LEDs, which appear as white light to the human eye, to send large amounts of data. The move is the latest in a series of O2 network trials as it paves the way for its 5G launch in the UK.

As part of the trial, O2 has installed pureLiFi’s LiFi-XC system, comprising nine LiFi-enabled LED bulbs, in the ‘Explore Room’ of its Slough HQ. The system enables data to be transmitted from an LED bulb and back at high speeds through adjustments in the bulb’s brightness. The result is a high-speed, bi-directional and fully networked wireless communication of data.

The term LiFi was coined by pureLiFi’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Professor Harald Haas, at a TedGlobal Talk in 2011 where he demonstrated the technology for the first time.

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

Derek McManus, O2’s chief operations officer, said: “We’re committed to building the best network possible for our customers, and a huge part of that is making sure we’re ahead of the pack in testing the latest technology.

“Our LiFi 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, pureLiFi’s chief executive, added: “With the proliferation of internet-of-things devices and continued growth in mobile users, the demand for spectrum is under increasing pressure.

“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.

“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.”

Picture: pureLifi’s team (Picture courtesy of pureLiFi)