Researchers developing super fast wireless internet

Researchers are developing a new method of wireless communication that could see Internet speeds in excess of 100 gigabits per second (Gbps).

A team at Oxford University have developed the networking technology, which uses light to transfer information at high speeds through the air.

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Fibre optic communications already use beams of light to transmit data, but utilise fibres to guide the light to its destination. A new method being explored by researchers would not require a cable of any kind.

The Telegraph reports that Dominic O’Brien, photonics engineer at Oxford University, has instead developed a system where a hub or base station is installed into the ceiling of a room to send and receive light signals.

In place of glass or plastic fibres, holographic beam steering technology guides the light in the correct direction using an arrangement of liquid crystals.

According to a paper on the new technology, published at the IEEE Explore Digital Library, the wireless communications currently only functions at distances less than three metres and when the computer is in the direct line of sight of the light signal.

The speed of information transfer is also currently dependent on the base station’s field of vision, with a wider viewing angle facilitating increased speeds.

O’Brien eventually plans to develop a tracking system which would allow a computer to be placed anywhere in relation to the base system and still receive communications. The system utilises the infrared spectrum of light, but still forms part of the wider development of visible light communications or Li-Fi.

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Li-Fi technology uses light to transfer information, as opposed to Wi-Fi which uses radio signals. Although, the latter is currently the industry standard, Li-Fi is expected to make major strides in the next few years, and is projected to see an annual growth rate of 82 per cent between 2013 and 2018.