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Exploiting LEDs for high-speed internet

Off-the-shelf LED room lights can be used for data transmission to achieve rates of up to 800 Mbit/s in laboratory conditions

In visible light communication, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI has set a further milestone on the way to high-speed internet from the ceiling lamp.

Development of novel components for data transmission over LEDs means that significantly higher bandwidth can now be used in real-time with data throughput rates of up to 3 Gbit/s. The new components will be presented at ITU 2013.

The technology developed by HHI makes it possible to use standard off-the-shelf LED room lights for data transmission. Data rates of up to 800 Mbit/s were reached by this optical WLAN under laboratory conditions, while a complete real-time system exhibited at trade fairs reached data throughput of 500 Mbit/s.

The newly developed patent protected components have now achieved a transmission rate of over 1 Gbit/s per single light frequency. As off-the-shelf LEDs mainly use three light frequencies or light colours, speeds of up to 3 Gbit/s are feasible.

Until now, LEDs could only be used with a bandwidth of around 30 MHz, yet the new technical components enable exploitation of a much higher bandwidth of up to 180 MHz. As the higher frequency bands are also used for transmission, this significantly boosts the data throughput rate.

Development of the components as modules makes them suitable for customised integration in technology developments such as Car-to-X communication. But visible light communication also has a broad array of other possible applications ranging from areas like airplanes where safety is at a premium to places like trade shows and factory halls where radio communication is problematic.

This new development represents a major step forward towards optical high-speed WLAN.

Fraunhoder HHI will be at the ITU Telecom World 2013, The Lab, Booth D09.02, taking place from November 19th to 22nd, Bangkok, Thailand.

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