Li-Fi instead of Wi-Fi: Light Revolutionizes Communication on Board
In addition, Li-Fi uses lightweight fiber optic cables in place of significantly heavier copper. This lowers the weight of the aircraft, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. One disadvantage compared to Wi-Fi, however, is Li-fi’s short range of only about ten meters.
At the Paris International Air Show in early 2019, the partnership between Air France, the Latécoère Group and software manufacturer Ubisoft was announced, with the aim of organizing an on-board video game tournament in an aircraft cabin. However, the first rounds of gaming based on Li-Fi technology still took place on the ground.
“we are convinced that li-fi will revolutionize in-flight connectivity within the next five years. i am particularly proud that we have completed all the necessary certification procedures for the li-fi solution and its integration into the cabin in record time.”
yannick assouad, ceo latécoère group
The gamers on board are not the only ones who benefit from Li-Fi though: personal tablets, notebooks and smartphones can also be connected to the modem via Bluetooth or cable. One small disadvantage, however, is that the data cannot be streamed directly to the passengers’ devices, as Li-Fi always requires direct line-of-sight contact, which can only be guaranteed by the modem.
“Li-Fi data transmission will dramatically change and improve the bandwidth of communication in the cabin,” says Serge Berenger, Vice President for Research and Technology at Latécoère. “It will change passengers’ lives. They will benefit from new cabin services that we are not yet even aware of today.”
“wi-fi is a technology that is inherently insecure and vulnerable to hackers. but if we use light instead, like we do with li-fi, we eliminate lots of problems. you don’t need to regulate or license the light spectrum and it can’t pass through walls.”
professor harald haas from the lifi research and development centre at the university of edinburgh
In addition to Airbus and the University of Edinburgh, numerous other companies and organizations, including Germany’s Fraunhofer Society and NASA, are pushing hard for the implementation of Li-Fi. “25 years ago, we accessed the Internet at home with beeping modems. Now we are surfing silently, wirelessly, and soon, maybe, using light on-board aircraft,” says Eric Peyrucain of the Airbus Digital Transformation Office, summarizing the technology’s rapid development.
Photos and graphics: Airbus, pureLifi, Latécoère Group, Air France