A United Arab Emirates (UAE) based telecoms company has announced that it has trialled a new ‘Li-Fi’ technology. Abdulrahman Al Ansari looks into how this could transform the Emirates’ digital economy in the future.
What is Li-Fi?
Li-Fi stands for ‘Light Fidelity,’ a new technology which facilitates internet usage. It uses a simple LED lightbulb to transmit data at extraordinary speeds, by switching these bulbs off and on at pace imperceptible to the human eye. Due to its reliance on light bulbs, Li-Fi is potentially cheaper to operate than existing Wi-Fi technologies and also offers speeds which are significantly higher.
There are drawbacks to Li-Fi however, due to its reliance on light waves. The technology has a narrower range than Wi-Fi, will not work outside in daylight hours and lacks the ability to travel through walls. However Emirati telecoms firm Du suggests that Li-Fi’s short range makes it more suitable for the kinds of secure communications required in buildings such as hospitals and business headquarters.
Li-Fi was first unveiled to the world at Edinburgh University during 2011, by noted technology innovator Harald Haas. Researchers in Estonia have since conducted further tests of the Li-Fi system. In November 2015, they achieved speeds of 1 gigabyte (GB) per second over Li-Fi in real world conditions, with speeds of up to 224GB per second in laboratory conditions. Middle East news hubs The National reports that Du has now announced that they have conducted their own trial with Li-Fi. In conjunction with Emirati start-up Zero1, Du’s trial has provided results which the publication says “promises to allow users to download HD movies in seconds.” Commenting on this project Du’s Executive Vice President, Saleem Al Balooshi, said:
“We are currently working with major businesses to create tailor-made Li-Fi solutions and to test and validate the applications so that we can ensure we offer the latest in innovation to our valued customers.” Al Balooshi did not make it clear when this Li-Fi-based technology would be commercially launched inside the UAE. When this takes place, it could rapidly transform the UAE’s digital landscape.
Revolutionary new technology Data quoted by Internet World Stats suggests that UAE internet usage now registers at 93.2% of the country’s population. Meanwhile, a study carried out by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, indicate that devices which support Wi-Fi usage are now carried and used everywhere in the UAE. For example, 64% of Emiratis use these devices at work, 52% utilise them in their cars and 66% do so while in bed. Also, 83% of respondents store important confidential information e.g. passwords on these devices.
Wi-Fi is becoming an increasingly pivotal part of Emirati life. When Du’s new Li-Fi project becomes commercially available, it could transform the UAE’s digital economy. Its increased speeds, when compared to Wi-Fi, could make it easier for Emiratis to engage with online content and partake in e-commerce activity. By facilitating higher online engagement, as well as providing more secure avenues for internet communication, Du’s Li-Fi technology could make it easier for the UAE to utilise digital technologies to lift its economic fortunes.
About Abdulrahman Al Ansari
Abdulrahman Al Ansari has more than 18 years of experience in the global financial services industry. He serves as the chairman of a number of reputable financial firms including AMA Investment Holding and Bid Capital Management Consultancy.
Abdulrahman’s professional portfolio encompasses a diverse range of sectors from commodities and natural resources to education, healthcare, oil & gas and investment banking. He has earned a reputation as an innovator, who consistently develops new ideas and solutions to address the complex and demanding challenges which confront his clients every day. Over the years, Abdulrahman has cultivated a special interest in the continued economic and community development of the UAE.