“Stakeholders providing inflight connectivity solutions are trying diverse ways to overcome the challenges related to the speed of inflight connectivity. Substituting Wi-Fi with Li-Fi is one among them.”
Inflight connectivity is gradually evolving from a premium and optional feature to a common and necessary feature present in almost all airlines. There is a higher demand for seamless and faster connectivity in flights, especially among millennials who finds it hard to stay in a flight without social media and online activities. In the present scenario, Wi-Fi is used as the major medium for data transmission across airlines. There are several R&D activities done around Li-Fi for making it a suitable substitute for Wi-Fi. One of the major difference between Wi-Fi and Li-Fi is that Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi uses visible light from LED bulbs for data transmission and provide fast internet connectivity.
There are several advantages of using Li-Fi for inflight connectivity. One major advantage is that the use of visible light spectrum for data transmission will not cause electromagnetic interference with other flight equipment inside. Also, light is a necessity in airline cabins and could be fitted with Li-Fi enabled LEDs easily. If Li-Fi is adopted airplane carriers could do away with Wi-Fi antennas and their installation charges inside the flight.
There are companies like Velmenni, based in India, who are in collaboration with Airbus Biz Lab, and is aiming to implement Li-Fi in aviation. The company also claims that it was able to achieve a data transfer speed of 1Gbps in their lab tests.
Though the technology of Li-Fi sounds very promising there are several challenges slowing down its adoption rate. A major issue is the lack of standardization of this technology, which makes smartphones and laptops manufacturers not adopting this technology. There are also several misconceptions regarding the technology among possible end-users, one popular misconception being that light signals need direct line of sight for data transmission. However, Li-Fi is expected to overcome these expectations and could play a major role in niche market where Wi-Fi signals are prohibited or are deemed as slow.
– Arjun Das,
Senior Research Analyst,