All Signs Lead to LiFi
Alistair Banham, Sarah Scace, Ron Schaeffer and Mostafa Afgani
pureLiFi, 51 Timberbush, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QH, Scotland, U.K.
Keywords: LiFi, Light Communications, Optical Wireless Communications.
Abstract: All signs lead to LiFi. Global communications requirements for greater bandwidth, reliable communications,
ultra-high speeds and unprecedented security can only be delivered by introducing LiFi to the communications
mix. Using light instead of radio waves to send and receive data, LiFi’s security, safety and bandwidth
advantages make it the right solution at the right time.
LiFi is approaching a watershed moment in
communications. After an accelerated period of
maturation, embeddable LiFi components are now
available, and advancements in speed, cost reduction
and standardisation mean that LiFi is now ready for
those driving next generation consumer technologies
that will fill our homes, streets, offices, and public
spaces in the next few years.
pureLiFi and the United States Army rolled out
the world’s first largescale deployment of LiFi in
2021, and the same benefits of high capacity, low
latency and security that make LiFi attractive for
defence users carry over directly to mainstream use
Data hungry technologies such as AI, AR and IoT
connecting everything are in demand and on the rise.
The radio frequency (RF) spectrum is suffering from
increased congestion due to the increase in connected
devices, despite new spectrum being opened up.
Schools in several European countries including
France and Germany are banning the use of WiFi in
schools. Cyber security is no longer just a concern for
National Security; it’s now a concern for personal
security. All industries must now look beyond radio
frequencies and LiFi is ready.
The McKinsey Global Institute (Grijpink, et al.,
2020) estimates that only about 70% of the global
demand for digital connections leading up to 2030
will be satisfied by existing radio frequency (RF) and
related technologies, even with advancements such as
5G and WiFi 6. That leaves a market worth $600
billion for emerging—or “frontier” technologies like
LiFi. McKinsey says, “With its improved speed,
efficiency, latency and coverage, frontier connectivity
can produce the remainder by taking many existing
use cases to the next level—and paving the way for
entirely new ones that we cannot foresee today.”
(Grijpink, et al., 2020)
Unable to meet the future demand for wireless
communications, it’s clear that even cutting-edge RF
technologies face the fundamental challenge of
limited radio spectrum availability, often called the
“spectrum crunch”. (Scrogill, 2017) That’s where
light-based wireless technologies like LiFi step in to
bridge the gap, offering 2,600x greater capacity than
the radio spectrum.
Changing behaviours and emerging use cases will
ensure that exploding demand for digital connections
is not just a short-term blip on an otherwise steady
upward curve and that RF technologies will struggle
to cope. As the International Society for Optics and
Photonics points out (Venugopal, 2021), optical
wireless communication such as LiFi is set to play an
important part in 6
generation (6G) as what may now
seem like use cases straight out of science fiction
become commonplace. The challenge of conveying
emotion in the metaverse aptly demonstrates the
hurdles that RF may struggle to surmount.
“Consider that a realistic 3D hologram of a human
face requires 19.1 gigapixels. Updating these points
in real time to match gestures and expressions will
need a download rate of 1 terabit per second!
Banham, A., Scace, S., Schaeffer, R. and Afgani, M.
All Signs Lead to LiFi.
DOI: 10.5220/0011007000003121
In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Photonics, Optics and Laser Technology (PHOTOPTICS 2022), pages 213-217
ISBN: 978-989-758-554-8; ISSN: 2184-4364
2022 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
Similarly, truly immersive augmented reality and
virtual reality require high data rates.”
Only LiFi—not RF—has a realistic chance of
reaching such high data rates. In fact, as part of an
international program called Terabit Bidirectional
Multi-user Optical Wireless System (TOWS) for 6G
LiFi, they hope to propel LiFi to an “eye-watering”
terabit per second as soon as 2024. (Pool, 2021)
The world is on track to need the speed and
capacity that only LiFi can deliver. Coupled with fast-
growing demand by those who are already connected,
further accelerated by the pandemic, McKinsey
estimates (Grijpink, et al., 2020) that an additional 2
billion users may come online by 2030.
2.1 LiFi Makes RF Better
One of the biggest influencers on user experience is
bandwidth. It is a common scenario for users in a
typical household to experience poor quality
connections due to multi-user effect. For example,
video conferencing calls can be throttled due to UHD
video streaming in another room. With the
introduction of new high bandwidth technologies
such as VR in the home, this scenario will only get
Current RF technologies are struggling to service
our increased demand for bandwidth. Over 2020 on
average users experienced an increase in video
buffering by 20%, an increase in video start failures
of 19% (Conviva) and a 100% increase in bad link
minutes (WiFi now global), all adding up to a
significant degradation in our collective user
experience online. Technologies such as WiFi-6 are
being introduced to combat these challenges,
however with limited spectrum the same challenges
of congested spectrum will imminently arise.
In 2018 pureLiFi demonstrated in a Scottish
school (Schofield, 2018) how LiFi can make Wi-Fi
networks more reliable and improve the user
experience. A LiFi network was deployed in a
classroom that regularly streamed high bandwidth
educational videos. By offloading bandwidth-heavy
content to the LiFi network, the neighbouring
classrooms benefited from more reliable WiFi
connections and therefore better user experiences.
LiFi in our homes will have the same benefits. A
simple way to introduce the benefits of LiFi to the
home is to create LiFi “bubbles” that are positioned
in locations of high bandwidth traffic, such as above
the TV or in home offices. LiFi could enable both
mobile access in these areas and also point to point
connectivity for streaming videos, connecting
accessories such as sound bars and gaming.
Figure 1: LiFi in use in a classroom at Kyle Academy in
Ayrshire Scotland.
By using LiFi-enabled devices and lights in high
bandwidth areas of the home it’s possible to stream
higher resolution videos and games while also
enabling more reliable WiFi network for everything
else we need to do online.
2.2 Enabling the Future of Immersive
Digital Realities
The use of AR and VR is on the rise not only for
consumer gaming but in manufacturing
environments. Lockheed Martin reports that the use
of AR and VR allows engineers to work 30 percent
faster and with an accuracy of up to 96 percent.
(Popular Mechanics, 2015) However, deploying new
mobile technology that requires high bandwidth, low
latency connections is a challenge as manufacturing
environments are notoriously highly congested RF
environments. Security is also a growing concern.
Providing LiFi connectivity at the point of need in
manufacturing environments can provide highly
reliable, low latency connections that are inherently
In the consumer marketplace, Facebook
announced their new name Meta in October 2021
reinforcing their strategy to deliver a truly immersive
metaverse to its users. As they explore the immersive
experience of the metaverse, users will both generate
and consume a huge volume of data -- at the edge and
at the data centre. Immersion demands an untethered
experience, and therefore that data must be delivered
wirelessly. Existing RF systems simply will not cope
due to their reliance on congested spectrum.
The metaverse will also demand ultra low, and
most importantly, consistent latency and jitter. The
OWC-SP 2022 - Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications: Status and Perspectives
metaverse will be real time, so connectivity needs to
be real time, too. In testing. LiFi consistently delivers
much better performance on these key factors than
does WiFi. Figure 2 Illustrates tests performed by
pureLiFi comparing pureLiFi’s latest LiFi enabled
phones for WiFi vs LiFi performance. As illustrated
in real world scenarios LiFi performance is higher
speed, more consistent and reliable. The tests were
performed with identical smartphones operating on
the same single channel 802.11ac baseband.
Figure 2: Graph illustrating comparison between LiFi and
WiFi performance in pureLiFi’s LiFi enabled mobile
phone. Tests conducted in typically congested network
environment, sampled at 5 second intervals.
Light can be easily contained, and LiFi systems are
designed to provide a well-defined area of coverage
that does not interfere with neighbouring networks.
This allows LiFi networks to exist almost in isolation
even in heavily crowded environments. This isolated
nature of the network allows it to be immune to
ambient radio interference and deliver ultra-low
latency connections with a throughput that is highly
consistent. For this use case and so many others, LiFi
delivers wire-like connectivity in a wireless system.
Cybercrime is no longer only a concern for large
corporates and national security but a growing and
embedded aspect of modern digital culture that has
impact on consumer confidence. The CPX 360 survey
performed by iQor found that two-thirds (70 percent)
of consumers fear lack of adequate security in their
home networks could allow hackers to break in to
smart devices in their homes (iQoR, 2021).
Alarmingly NetScout also reported that Internet
of Things (IoT) devices are under attack five minutes
after they are powered up and are targeted by specific
exploits within 24 hours (Netscout, 2019).
In addition, while the latest 5G systems are being
deployed to meet increasing data demand, capacity,
and communications requirements, they are opening
up all new security vulnerabilities. The NSA released
a report in which they warned that the exponential
increase in IoT devices connecting to 5G networks is
only intensifying these vulnerabilities. (,
When it comes to security, consumers, employers
and industry are increasingly concerned about cyber
threats of the kind that LiFi can prevent or mitigate in
ways that RF cannot. LiFi provides inherent military
grade security while offering robust, fast and reliable
wireless communications. LiFi signals are not
accessible outside of a defined room or space,
because LiFi does not pass-through walls and can be
designed to be highly directional. LiFi can also be
contained to a defined cone of light. This unique
quality of LiFi means that communications are
inherently secure providing intentional connectivity.
Figure 3: WiFi vs LiFi Networks. WiFi leaking through
walls. LiFi contained. ©pureLiFi.
In contrast WiFi and other RF signals are susceptible
to eavesdropping from outside. As the FBI warned in
a Tech Tuesday bulletin on the risk of smart TVs, “At
the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change
channels, play with the volume, and show your kids
inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they
can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and
microphone, and silently cyberstalk you.” (Doffman,
3.1 Unprecedented Privacy for Home
Researchers at Cardiff University and Southampton
University (Felstead & Reuschke, 2020) showed that
43% of the working population in the UK was
working from home by April 2020 as lockdowns
came into force, an eightfold increase from January
2020. And, of course, those workers were
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LiFi Throughput WiFi Throughput
All Signs Lead to LiFi
continuously accessing networked company
As lockdowns eased in June 2020, the researchers
found that (Felstead & Reuschke, 2020) the
proportion of homeworkers naturally fell, but only to
about 37%. That’s an early indicator that much
increased homeworking is here to stay even after the
pandemic. However, according to OpenVPN 54% of
IT managers consider remote workers to be a greater
security threat. (OpenVPN)
There is a growing need for secure, high
bandwidth and reliable communications in the home
office that is simple to implement. LiFi systems are
plug and play and are able to complement existing
WiFi and network infrastructure in the average home.
Self-contained LiFi systems can be provisioned by
employers for their home workers that allow only
wireless access to networked company resources via
a secure LiFi link.
Figure 4: Home worker using self-contained LiFi system
for connection to a company network.
Additionally, these unique LiFi access points can be
optimised to allow various levels of secure access to
information making information management less
complex. For example, LiFi link type “A” allows for
“Y” security level access and LiFi link “B” allows for
“X” Security level access.
If home working is going to remain a new normal,
then appropriately securing the employee’s home
office is essential and LiFi offers a military grade
security solution with low logistical impact.
Employers can now provide the tools to insist that
employees not only use approved company
equipment such as laptops and tablets, but they can
insist and enforce the use of approved wireless
networks at home.
3.2 Intentional Connectivity
While LiFi is a mobile wireless technology it can also
offer benefits when used as a point-to-point link.
Smartphones are increasingly being used to replace
our wallets and our keys while also containing our
most sensitive of data such as contacts, banking
information, location data, and all of our private
videos and photos. It’s natural that we also then need
to use our phones to not only share sensitive data but
to pay for items at shops or to open the doors to our
cars and even our homes. The technologies currently
used for these types of exchanges and transactions are
RF based such as NFC and Bluetooth. Not only are
they low bandwidth but they are also vulnerable to
eavesdropping and interception. LiFi allows for the
implementation of “intentional connectivity”
meaning that connections are only initiated when in
“line of sight” to the intended recipient. LiFi
connections cannot be passively hacked when a
phone is in a pocket or handbag, meaning that LiFi
exchanges from a phone have a very low probability
of interception or attack.
Figure 5: Two of pureLiFi's LiFi enabled mobile phones
sharing files securely.
This has secure applications for payments, digital
keys or passes and general phone to phone or phone
to anything secure data transfers.
Today there are 8.1 billion mobile subscriptions and
we consume globally 72 exabytes of data per month
and growing (Ericson 2021). While LiFi may not be
in every device and every light yet, LiFi components
are ready to be designed into the next generation of
mobile devices and mainstream access points.
The requirement for LiFi is clear the demand for
digital connections is exploding, cyber threats are
increasing and industry cooperation is growing, all
while RF spectrum congestion isn’t getting any
bigger. All signs point to LiFi and LiFi is ready.
OWC-SP 2022 - Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications: Status and Perspectives
Grijpink, Ferry, et al. Connected world: An evolution in
connectivity beyond the 5G revolution. McKinsey &
Company. [Online] February 2020. https://www.
Scrogill, Tim. Is LiFi the Future of Secure Networks?
ScureWorld. [Online] 11 September 2017.
Venugopal, Vineeth. The light way to 6G. SPIE: The
International Society for Optics and Photonics. [Online]
1 January 2021.
Pool, Rebecca. LiFi: Coming to a factory, a school, and a
car near you. SPIE: The International Society for Optics
and Photonics. [Online] 1 Janaury 2021.
Conviva, [online] 2020,
Popular Mechanics [online] February 2015,
Schofield, Jack. Scottish school claims world first for using
light-based Li-Fi networking. ZDNet. [Online] 31
August 2018.
iQoR, [online] 2021, November 2021, https://blog.iqor.
Netscout, [online] 2019, November 2021,
E2%80%93%20Web.pdf, [online], 2021, Potential Threat Vectors to
5G infrastructure, 2021
Doffman, Zak. [online], 2020, FBI ‘Drive-By’ Hacking
Threat Just Got Real: Here’s Why You Should Be
Concerned. Forbes. [Online] 7 October 2020.
Felstead, Alan and Reuschke, Darja. Homeworking in the
UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown. Cardiff:
Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research.
OpenVPN [Online],
Ericson [Onilne[, Auguust 2021,
All Signs Lead to LiFi