Market context

The Li-Fi market context for Li-Fi is driven by several major trends.

1)    The risks of a spectrum crunch

We are running out of existing bandwidth to support growth in internet usage

  • Internet video traffic is growing at a rate of 48% per annum.
  • More video is uploaded to YouTube in a day than was broadcast by all three major US TV networks in the last three years (Forbes Magazine, 2012).
  • YouTube and Netflix now account for 50% of all internet traffic (Sandvine Report, 2013).
  • Wi-Fi and mobile communications both operate within the radio frequency (r.f.) part of the electro-magnetic spectrum, and this has a limited capacity that will eventually be overwhelmed by the growth in traffic already in process.

2)    The introduction of LED lighting

Solid State lighting is set to become all pervasive

  • In just three years the market for LED lighting has grown by a factor of 3.5 (Strategies in Light conference, 2012).
  • It is estimated that in 2014, LEDs will secure 24% of the lighting market and a value reaching £15.3 billion ($26 billion).
  • Solid state lighting enables intelligent lighting, with sensors and controls set to be worth £1.8 billion ($3 billion) by 2020.
  • LED lighting is being increasingly deployed in automotive and street lighting, as well as in domestic, retail and industrial contexts.

3)    The need for green technology solutions

Low Power, Low Carbon, Green Networking Solutions are Essential

  • The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributes around 2% of total Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, set to grow as other sectors achieve efficiencies and ICT becomes more prevalent (An Inefficient Truth, Global Action Plan Report, 2007).
  • Networking components are projected to contribute around 40% of the total ICT GHG emissions (GSMA: Mobile Green Manifesto, 2009).
  • In 2010, the communication infrastructure accounted for approximately 15.6 billion kWh of energy consumption within data centres worldwide (J.Koomey, 2011).
  • Communication functions typically consume around 50% of the power of mobile devices.
  • In general Wi-Fi is up to a factor of 3x more efficient than 3G networks with combination networks providing significant energy benefits (Balasubramanian, et al., 2009).

4)    Increased concerns over cyber security

Radio frequency signals can be readily intercepted

  • In 2010, £4.7 trillion ($8 trillion) worth of global commerce was transacted via the internet (McKinsey Global Institute Report, 2011).
  • The cost of cyber-crime to the UK has been estimated to be of the order of £27 billion ($45.9 billion) per year.
  • The UK Government has set aside £650 million ($1.1 billion) over four years for a National Cyber Security Programme.

The Critical National Infrastructure can be more robust if access points leak less signal.

5)    The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things will revolutionize all aspects of the modern world

  • The Future Internet is predicted to bring between £50-100 billion ($85-170 billion) annual benefit to the UK alone (ICT KTN Future Internet Report, 2011).
  • The Internet of Things will make pervasive connections across previously unconnected services, machines, businesses and individuals.
  • Digital data is growing at a CAGR of 57%, and increasingly this data needs to be directly accessed by end users.
  • The Internet of Things will affect how cities are managed, businesses run, finance is conducted and how items are manufactured.
  • One of the enabling components is wireless connectivity, and Li-Fi will allow high bandwidth wireless connections to be easily made.

Li-Fi offers immediate benefits towards each of the above trends

  1. The visible light spectrum is plentiful, free and unlicensed, mitigating the r.f. spectrum crunch effect.
  2. The wide use of solid state lighting offers an opportunity for efficient dual use lighting and communication systems.
  3. Li-Fi is more power efficient than radio technologies.
  4. Li-Fi signals are less prone to leakage beyond their intended environment, so offering increased security.
  5. Li-Fi will enable many more “Things” to be connected to the Internet, diversifying and increasing the number of available applications.