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Chinese tech experts announce ‘Li-Fi’ breakthrough

Graeme Parton

Scientists in China are claiming to have made considerable strides in their attempts to increase internet accessibility across  the world.

The experts say they are closer than ever to making ‘Li-Fi’ – a wireless internet connection using LED light bulbs – a reality.

According to Chi Nan, a professor of IT at Fudan University in Shanghai, the micro-chipped bulb that has been developed can reach data speeds as high as 150Mbps. Researchers are also saying that a single one-watt bulb could be capable of keeping four devices connected to the internet at one time.

Some critics are, however, saying that more evidence would be needed to prove the claims were true; there are currently no photographs or videos showcasing the technology.

Around two years ago, the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Harald Haas, who is an optical wireless communication expert, showed how signal processing equipment could be used to allow a normal LED light bulb to stream HD video content to a PC. He called the technology ‘light fidelity’ (Li-Fi) and started his own firm, PureVLC, in order to develop the idea further.

Perhaps suggesting that it may be a little too early to get excited about the news coming from China, Nikola Serafimovski from PureVLC said:

“We’re just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement – but how valid this is we don’t know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.”

If the plans to bring Li-Fi up to the required standards were to come to fruition, it would be a massive step forward for the web in China, with the claimed LED speeds being around four times faster than the average broadband connection in the country.

As it is also considerably cheaper than standard Wi-Fi, the technology could also be used to great effect in emerging markets in the rest of Asia and South America.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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