Li-Fi Technology: Are we already beyond 5G and Wi-Fi?

In the past we have already addressed the issue of 5G, highlighting not only the technical characteristics but also outlining some of the areas that are strongly influenced by it, such as, for example, the automotive or the primary sector. Although this technology is not yet fully widespread globally, there is already another that – very soon – could take its place: Li-Fi (or Light Fidelity). This technology consists of a two-way wireless system that transmits data via LED or infrared light. Simply put, Li-Fi only needs a light source to transmit data.

Wi-Fi has a limited capacity and becomes saturated with the increase in the number of users who surf, with the risk of causing a system crash with a reduction in speed or an interruption of the connection.

Invention and development of Li-Fi technology

Harald Haas, professor of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh, is considered the founder of Li-Fi. He discovered its potential and promoted this technology as early as 2011, in his TED Global speech.

Li-Fi marked the introduction of a new wireless communication mode and led to further evolutions over the years.

To date, however, the technology does not yet allow the complete replacement of Wi-Fi as the primary source of connectivity. Nonetheless, many specialized companies are working hard on the development of new products to make it a tool used by the general public starting soon.

How Li-Fi Works:

As anticipated, Li-Fi technology is based on light. Specifically, a receiver – through an optical sensor – takes care of capturing the light signals which are then decoded and transmitted to software that transforms them into electrical signals suitable for being understood by PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Hence, any building with an electrical system could easily be covered by Li-Fi.

In practice, Li-Fi technology transmits data through an LED light source, which has an internal modem capable of making lightly imperceptible to the human eye. This is then picked up by a USB device (or other types of the adapter) connected to the device to be connected to the Internet, capable of transmitting data to the luminaire via an infrared connection.

Finally, the data is encoded by software that transforms them into luminous inputs with a band frequency that is around 200,000 GHz, against the maximum 5 GHz of Wi-Fi.

Li-Fi and Wi-Fi comparison:

Wi-Fi: Greater interference, it cannot pass through seawater and only works well in places with little density in terms of population.

Li-Fi: Less interference, a possible passage through saltwater, and better functioning even in the presence of a high density of people.


Wi-Fi: Used for browsing the Internet with the help of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Li-Fi: Used in underwater exploration, hospital operating rooms, offices, and home premises for data transfer and Internet browsing.

Coverage distance:

Wi-Fi: The coverage distance of Wi-Fi is about 32 meters (WLAN 802.11b / 11g).

Li-Fi: The coverage distance of Li-Fi is about 10 meters.

Data density:

Wi-Fi: Works in less dense environments, due to problems related to data interference from too many people connected.

Li-Fi: It does not give any problem in high-density places.


Wi-Fi: Various sources of radio interference can disrupt the operation of a Wi-Fi network.

Li-Fi: Does not have interference problems similar to radio-frequency waves and, in general, it is a technology that offers very stable connectivity.


Wi-Fi: It is less secure because the signal cannot be blocked by walls and other types of objects.

Li-Fi: The light is blocked by the walls, thus allowing for safer data transfer.

 The biggest drawback of Li-Fi technology lies in its coverage distance. Since light cannot pass through walls, the range of the signal is limited by physical barriers. Furthermore, in conditions of absence or limited brightness, it is almost impossible to use this technology.

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