Around 40 percent of the entire world population has an Internet connection. This percentage of connectivity has realized a huge leap in growth from the one percent rate in 1995. This is largely a result of wireless networks, which have revolutionized how people access the Internet. These networks are far less complicated, more dependable, and easier to access than previous methods. People all over the world are able to connect to the Internet, especially in rural and remote areas; providing them with social and economic advantages, and easier access to medical care. Advancements in wireless technology continue to be the focus of a telecommunications industry that is always looking for a faster, more effective connectivity solution.
While the fourth generation, 4G, is still new to many countries, the telecommunications industry is already working on 5G. As this technology continues to be perfected, the goal is that all devices will be wirelessly connected via 5G networks. The demand for faster networks is real and urgent, due to the continuing rapid growth of data traffic. It has been predicted that networks need to be ready for a 1,000-fold increase in data volumes by the 2020s.
Many aspects of 5G networks still need to be decided, such as their technical requirements and industry regulations. The requirements already decided upon include connection speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, and response times below one millisecond. Decisions still remain regarding which band of radio spectrum 5G networks will use, and which wireless technologies are to be implemented. Makers of network gear and handsets need to know which standards they will have to comply with, including lower rates of power consumption.
Impact on the Internet of Things
The advent of 5G network technology will bring an exponential boost in data speeds and low transmission latency, which will be important and beneficial to the Internet of Things. As more and more devices are connected—such as self-driving cars, automated robots, telemedicine, household appliances, drones, and industrial machines—the need grows for new network technology that reaches further and is more dependable. Many companies are investing billions of dollars in sensors, smart chips, and telecom services with the idea of capitalizing on the interrelationship of 5G networks and the Internet of Things.
Li-Fi (Light Fidelity)
Another advancement in wireless networks is Li-Fi, or light fidelity, which uses light signals to communicate data. Studies have shown that Li-Fi provides higher speeds than Wi-Fi, reaching up to 224 gigabits per second with transmission rates of one gigabit per second. The idea originated from a TED Talk in 2011 by professor Harald Hass who argued that light bulbs could be turned into wireless routers. He founded the company, Pure Li-Fi, which develops Li-Fi devices. He also started the Li-Fi Consortium, a nonprofit organization with which other organizations can license their technology or partner for no membership fee.
Li-Fi technology uses infrared and ultraviolet light waves to communicate data. These spectrums achieve greater speeds using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) because they carry more information than radio frequency waves. This is highly beneficial, since radio frequency waves have limited space and are near to reaching capacity. Radio frequency waves are heavily regulated in the US, while the light spectrum of Li-Fi is 10,000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum and is unregulated.
Benefits to Communication
Since Li-Fi does not use radio frequency, there is no electromagnetic interference, which makes it better suited for reaching highly sensitive areas. This can advance communication in hard to reach areas like mines, and can eliminate disrupting sensitive equipment like technology found in hospitals. Li-Fi networks will also work well alongside cellular and Wi-Fi technology, providing an additional option for connectivity. It can syphon off and relieve heavy traffic from cellular and Wi-Fi networks and also service densely populated areas such as shopping malls, stadiums, sporting events, and concerts.
Although Li-Fi has faster speeds than Wi-Fi, it has a shorter range. The further away from the light source, the slower the speed. However, there is an advantage to having a limited range: security in communication and transferring information is better and stronger. Users can limit the area of accessibility, keeping the connection controllable, private, and secure.
The future of wireless networks is looking faster and more efficient. As telecommunications providers and engineers continue to improve the technology, more people will benefit from better and more secure communication. This new network technology will also bring strength and speed to the many smart and connected devices powering the ever-expanding Internet of Things.
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Recommended ReadingsThe Evolution of Wireless Networks
Defining 5G Networks