IEEE Establishes 802.11 Light Communications Study Group

IEEE, a technical professional organization committed to advancing technology, and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), have established the IEEE 802.11 Light Communications Study Group. The new study group intends to directly engage with manufacturers, operators and end users in helping build a consensus to create a Project Authorization Request (PAR) towards developing a global wireless local area network light communications standard.

According to the organization, PARs are the means by which the IEEE-SA begins standards projects, and they set the scope, purpose, and contact points for the new project. Any members of the IEEE-SA can submit a PAR through the organization’s MyProject system.

Light communications have the potential to be a readily available and very large source of wireless spectrum outside of the traditional radio spectrum. Light communication employs solid state lighting, such as LED lighting installations to transmit high bandwidth data. The light basically acts as a wireless, line-of-sight-demanding network.

Luxeon High Power

IEEE Says Light Communication Offers Greater Bandwidth than Conventional Wireless

Notably, the conventional wireless technology uses RF signals with limited bandwidth. However, light communications technology offers higher bandwidth that does not contribute to electromagnetic interference (EMI) below 3 THz. While such technology does require line of sight to a light source, this requirement can add the security imperative that only lets it work with physical access to the rooms in which the lighting is located.

Furthermore, the high efficiency of LEDs, and the high data density of potential light communications give the technology tremendous potential. The organization cites industry analysts such as Gartner who forecast that the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to 20 billion connected devices by 2020.

The organization says that light communication is growing in its level of adoption through use cases that prove its viability as a wireless solution with initial applicability in EMI-challenged environments, including hospitals, airplanes, petrochemical plants, and airplanes. Also, such communication technology can be used in secure environments where RF is not sanctioned.

“In just a few short years, the interest in light communications has grown significantly and there is an enormous amount of valuable knowledge that vendors and operators can share as they work together to advance the technology globally,” said Nikola Serafimovski, chair of the IEEE 802.11 Light Communications Study Group. “It’s an exciting time for the light communications market sector, as it is poised for substantial growth over the next five years. We look forward to broad participation under the auspices of the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN Working Group and the IEEE-SA as we work to develop the light communications market in line with industry needs, and to ensure best practices that drive market expansion.”

For more information, visit the IEEE 802.11 Light Communications Study Group website.