The future of wireless
We want our networks to be fast, reliable and available in ever more devices, but can technology keep up? Let’s look into our crystal ball…
As wireless tech becomes faster and more readily available, we’re finding a growing number of uses for it, from being able to shuttle 4K video around our homes to controlling our heating, lighting and more.
Thanks to initiatives like the Internet of Things, even more of the devices we use every day, from cookers to vacuum cleaners, will become connected, so our hunger for bandwidth is only going to grow.
The problem is we may be already getting close to choke point. The Wi-Fi Alliance predicts there’ll be 38.5 billion connected devices by 2020. Providers in the US, at least, have already begun ringing the alarm bells about the lack of available radio spectrum. Luckily there are a few technologies on the near horizon that will be able to meet this challenge head on.
The first is 5G mobile technology. Currently undergoing trials, this promises minimum data transfer rates of 50Mbps wherever you are, and up to 1Gbps in places like homes and offices. The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (ngmn.org) has already produced a white paper on the subject – with the aim being to implements the technologies for 2020 onwards.
See the light
Then there’s 802.11ah, also known as Wi-Fi HaLow. It’s a low-power Wi-Fi standard, which aims to use the largely untapped 900MHz band and is perfect for all those Internet of Things appliances.
Another interesting technology is Light Fidelity (Li-Fi), which uses visible light to transmit data. Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi and up to 100 times faster. Rumours suggest Li-Fi could be coming to future iPhones. Apple has already patented technology that will allow its cameras to capture light data, and references to Li-Fi have already been found in iOS.
An iOS jailbreaker revealed references to Li-Fi in Apple’s mobile OS, could it join traditional Wi-Fi soon?